Dave Hamilton, who is originally from Columbus, OH., and project leader of the Happy Curmudgeons, launched in 2015, assembled a group of studio musicians to record “Meant 2 Be” – Jeff Warner, Amy Dixon-Lavery and Jay “Tumbleweed” Burrs make up the core of the band. Takaski Iio (bass) Keith Leonard (bass) Dylan Hornsby (bass), Shawn Ramsey (bass), Rick Beamon (drums), Nate Harasim (piano & keyboards) Jeff Ryan (sax on Soulsville) and Marlow Ray Morgan (vocals on Burn Sugar Burn) all worked on tracks on the album. “Meant 2 Be” was produced by Nate Harasim and Mark Byerly. It was recorded at The Spot Pontiac and Longview Studio in Rochester Hills, MI. You can crank this record up and it will never sound harsh, just thick and meaty.
There are a number of fantastic songs on this record, and there absolutely is a fun vibe to it. Sometimes an album just feels like something. Like a smell that reminds you of home or a meal that reminds you of a first date. “Meant 2 Be” reminds one of many things. It contains seemingly simple songs for complex times…or is it the other way around? Either way, it’s meant to be, what its…“Meant 2 Be”!
The Happy Curmudgeons is a band that connects to me on a very simple level. Their music is categorized by pure rawness and sincerity, and never by genre. The instrumentation is profound, spacious, organic and all-embracing but it doesn’t even need to be. One of the best parts about “Meant 2 Be” is just how sincere is feels on every level.
Front-man Dave Hamilton shows off how geeky and versatile this band is in some cases. I connect to that and I just love it. Hamilton isn’t trying to be a poet; he just sings what he feels because he can’t do it any other way. He just tells you how it is. Hamilton wrote or co-wrote all 11 tracks on this release. This lets you know that the album means just as much to him and the band, as it will to the listener.
This is one of those albums that you can listen beginning to end, without skipping any songs. And then let it start over again. It still makes you want to sing (or shout) along, and yet it mines deeper feelings and ideas as well. It is well written, and has moments of irony and humor, without being pretentious.
Musically the Happy Curmudgeons can kick the crap out of their instruments, as they do on the rocking tracks “Carnal Boogie”, “Burn Sugar Burn” and “Butterfly”. But they’re more than capable of being acoustically delicate and lyrically poignant as they are on “Seasons” and the mid-tempo “Idle Time”.
This latter track also features some shining electric guitar motifs, and tight as a tick drumming. Dave Hamilton’s heartfelt croon is grounded in pure and gritty sentiment, and sits comfortably amidst a sumptuously layered arrangement.
Going right back to the beginning of this album, and the opening track, “Bar Hoppin”, we’re taken on a roller-coaster ride as the Happy Curmudgeons opt for an upbeat Saturday night rock n’ roll jive.
This track comes complete with full harmonies and a fiery guitar solo, making it an incredibly likable rock n’ roll jam that you’ll love from the very first play. But there is much to love on this album, like the acoustic strum and pick of “Seasons” or “3rd Coast”.
“Meant 2 Be” is extraordinarily well-produced, well-performed, fun to listen to, and many times awe inspiring , seeming to lift you up to a higher dimension of musical satisfaction. This album is loaded with catchy and innovative tunes, and it doesn’t even matter what genre you stick them in.