Resolution for the BoDeans

Music Features The BoDeans
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Roots rock has always been an exercise in optimism, a simple belief in the eternal resilience of a heartfelt lyric and a well-timed riff. And few can claim to have steered the roots route longer than Wisconsin’s The BoDeans. With T Bone Burnett at the helm of their first project in 1986, The BoDeans showed that, not only did they have arguably the best ragged vocal chemistry since The Band, but also enough sanguinity to nick the cheery title of their debut, Love and Hope and Sex and Dreams, from The Rolling Stones’ arch-cynical “Shattered.”

“I remember being little, in the car listening to the radio,” says BoDeans co-founder Kurt Newman. “And it was source of positive energy—it always made me feel really good. I think what I write stems from that feeling.” But while that positivity may have played a part in getting The BoDeans voted “Best New American Band” in a 1987 issue of Rolling Stone, not to mention keeping the duo together long enough to watch grunge and half dozen other trends come and go, partner Sammy Llanos’s contributions give The BoDeans a harder edge and gritty authenticity. “There is something about the sadness of songs that I find the most beautiful,” says Llanos. “I find that the best come from the real things that happen.”

But the band’s new record, Resolution, comes on the heels of an eight-year hiatus that tested even Newman’s sunny outlook. “We were getting out of a legal situation with our ex-manager. Basically the band was stagnating so I took it upon myself to move forward—that was where we came up with the name ‘Resolution.’” Even still, Resolution bears all the marks of a classic BoDeans record: impossibly catchy hooks, ear-tickling harmonies and a romantic-yet- believable hopefulness. The record’s first single “If It Makes You,” is a jaunty pop gem that is already getting significant AAA airplay. Resolution means closure, but also determination to move on. “We’re really trying just to move forward and stay focused on what was always positive for us,” says Newman, “which was playing music, playing these simple little three-chord songs that we like.”