Joey Ryan and the Inks: Well, Here We Are Then


Here's one last album for the 2009 Best Of lists. Well, Here We Are Then is a vitamin D jolt, a perfectly timed release to aid winter-chilled Midwesterners yearning for an injection of anything warm and sunny. The local five-piece transports listeners to mid-'60s California, where masses of beach bums were able to sing four-part harmonies while simultaneously surfing monster waves and daydreaming about Liverpool and Cuban heel boots. In "Yellow Bird," the band sneaks in jangly Revolver-era organ tinkering beneath upbeat, staccato guitar lines. And "Spitting in Tune" sprinkles doo-doo-do-woo-hoos and peppers harmonica squawks among clever lyrics like "Another seasick tailored suit is running home."

Occasionally, the band pulls back the bright tone overload. "You Fool" is minimalistic, with a simple piano line adding to a hushed acoustic guitar. "By the Wayside" features finger plucking and simple harmonies and "rain washing over your heavy hair and heavy eyelids." And instead of a bright orange star in the sky, "leaves come and go in the wind." Though listeners would be hard pressed to find a track undeserving of radio play and audience applause, Joey Ryan and the Inks are at their best when they let the sun shine. Perhaps the brightest tune on Well, Here We Are Then is "Shame on Me Once (Shame on You Twice)." Here they pull out all the stops: sleigh bells, cymbal crashes, peppy shouting—and is that an egg shaker? Please let that be an egg shaker.