Thursday, December 3, 2020

The Flat Five's "Another World" Is Another Gem



I had been waiting for a new Flat Five record since about 15 seconds after the debut album finished playing. "It's A World Of Love & Hope" was my favorite record of 2016. It was a collection of songs written by the mad genius Chris Ligon, turned into some of the most offbeat and melodic sunshine pop by his brother Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough, both current members of NRBQ, Kelly Hogan, Nora O'Connor and Alex Hall.

Pandemic delays both in recording and shipping, and I finally got my copy of "Another World" last week. And yes, here it comes, it was worth the wait!

"Another World" picks up where "Love & Hope" left off in a number of ways, including another 11 songs written by Chris Ligon. And while the formula is basically the same--upbeat melodies and mostly swinging arrangements, there is something about "Another World" that seems tighter, maybe just a bit more focused.

Ligon's songs remain as dark as ever. "The Great State Of Texas," sung by Miss O'Connor, describes the last things one experiences before execution, all in a sweet lullaby, while "World Missed Out" is...well...just absolutely chilling. I won't spoil it.

It's not all dark. "Butterflies Don't Bite" is a complete joy, sounding exactly like the perfect Tijuana Brass tune if it had lyrics, and "The Girl Of Virginia," a short and sweet waltz,  sounding like a cross between a country classic and a jazz standard, shows off the brilliant harmonizing of Scott and Casey.

After the first pass of "Another World" I was happy, but wasn't quite satisfied. The Flat Five had some big shoes to fill after their debut. But by the third spin, "Another World" proved to be just as smart and in some ways, even better. I didn't think that was possible, but that's how good this band and Ligon's songs really are.












A Walk In The Woods said...

Holy smokes, "The World Missed Out" is amazing. Instantly one of my fave songs of 2020.

Being from the ATL, I've been a Kelly Hogan devotee since 1989 or so when she was with the Jody Grind. Some of my best concert memories from that decade are of seeing them.

Since then, I've enjoyed her solo records and her touring work with Neko, but it didn't hit quite the same spot. This does. I'll be buying it!

A guy called Tak said...

Yes, I've been waiting for this since 2016? Worth the wait!
They don't really have a stand-out singer but they remind me The 5th Dimension+Brasil '66+Mamas & Papas+Spanky & Our Gang. No one makes ths record like this any more!

Anonymous said...

This pleases me to no end - I'm doing back flips!

Just ordered!! Thanks for the heads up.

Merry COVID Christmas!


Whattawino said...

I have been loving this album for a few weeks and it is absolutely one of the best things to come out of 2020. Warning: It is very intoxicating!

Rodger Stroup said...

This is a great telework CD. It fits in perfectly with whatever's playing before and after. Just for fun, I put The Flat Five and Free Design back to back. Perfecto!
Your review is spot on, Sal! Thanks for spreading the word!


I too dig this album bigly!

I find I can't explain it to people -- just have to play it.

hpunch said...

I love Chris Ligon's songs and records ( thanks to your post some years back, after hearing NRBQ cover California live, I tracked down all I could ), but they become something magical when filtered through The Flat Five. Spot on review.

Anonymous said...

Hello, please remain seated,

Wow, good call on this. All three of those songs are winners. Love the banjo just plunking out the single string riff on The World Missed Out.


neal t said...

I also had their first #1 that year. big fan of the Q and all related acts. one thing that surprises me is how close the source material is to the Flat Five versions. With Chris it is seen almost as outsider music but when these five talented players play them it is seen as homage to the glory days of sunshine 60's pop. he's cast as Jim from Taxi while TF5 something like The Cowsills. While Jonsing for the followup a while back I captured like 40 different tunes by them on YouTube. I'd be a regular at their rare gigs if I was close to Chicago.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Neal T
The Chris Ligon records feel outsider to me. The lyrics and melodies might be the same, but I think the whole level changes when you're adding the Flat Five's harmonies and instrumentation. Jim From Taxi vs. The Cowsills is both funny and dead on. That's certainly how I hear it.

And I did the same YouTube binge. Some of those covers are truly stellar. Might be worth a Weekend Mix.