With the release of “Ichor Of Nettle” (which you can read my review from October 8, 2017 here), the Successful Failures had seemingly reached the pinnacle of their musical career. With their humble beginnings in 1998 (which actually started out as a solo project for Dipsomaniacs frontman Mick Chorba), and throughout the 2000s, they have continued to release quality product. In 2005 (the year that Mick decided to put together a full time band under the Successful Failures banner), the now trio began articulating their sound and craft which resulted in their self-titled debut a year later. With its immaculate blend of power pop, alt-country, garage, and uplifting rock ‘n’ roll, the album set the stage for what was to come.
If you were to binge listen to the entire Successful Failures discography in chronological order, your trained ear would pick up the elevation of their expertise with each release. Many artists are known to have their peaks and valleys, due to a lack of creativity (or other mitigating factors), but with Mick and his Jersey brotherhood, their ascent doesn’t seem to be coming to an end. Along their path, they keep improving upon their perfection, while also possessing a progressively experimental spirit. Besides being a melting pot of musical influences, they aren’t afraid to do something outside of their signature sound (see the Americana-drenched EP “Pine Hill”). The aforementioned “Ichor Of Nettle” (their last album to date), however, was a masterpiece that brought it all together. An encapsulation for everything in their universe, if you will. It’s usually when such an outpouring of talent can cause the wheels to come off (as we’ve seen so many times with other artists), and that next record is just a mediocre red flag. But with the Successful Failures, they just keep living up to the first part of their moniker…
On August 30, the Successful Failures will street release their next full length collection, titled “Saratoga”. Along with Mick Chorba, core bandmates Ron Bechamps and Rob Martin are still in the fold, as well as guitarist Pete Smith. Keyboardist/guitarist Greg Potter is the latest addition to the multi-layered tapestry of this hard working group. Mick’s strong songwriting ethic is (unsurprisingly) on full display, running concurrently with the depth of the music provided by the Successful ones. Culling from literary influences and personal experiences, the (non)Failures have created a songbook of synergy that has brought them to the next level.
The opener “Because We’re Ghosts” is a sweet rocker with a beat, complete with a sing-along chorus that’s infectious; “Love You So” is more laid back, an intelligent love letter with a Southern rock flirtation (a la Drive-By Truckers) flavored with Badfinger; “No White Knight In Knoxville” is an uplifter, with its beefy Long Ryders flavoring that would appeal to blue collar workers and the college crowd alike; “Ruby Ruby” sticks their feet in the bluesier side of Lynyrd Skynyrd, a post modern classic rocker steeped in a vintage “below the Mason-Dixon line” attitude. When you hear the opening to “Oh Diane”, you almost expect Patterson Hood himself to be in front of the mic, as this sounds like a lost tune from those Truckers. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Mr. Hood fell instantly in love with this song and covered it live. Ending the album is “Where Were You?”, an endorphin-pumper in the Replacements vein, making you check to see if it was co-written with Paul Westerberg himself.
“Saratoga” is a feat that forces one to never discount what the Successful Failures are capable of. Just when you think that they’ve topped themselves, they blow all expectations to dust. You expect an excellent album, and yet it tops the previous one with ease. You can come away from a listening experience with numerous emotions, yet their songs are never preachy or overselling any subject matter. It’s simple, but anything but. Successful? Yes. Failures? Never.
Pre-order “Saratoga” on CD, vinyl, or in mp3 format on Bandcamp.
Stay in the Successful Failures loop by checking out their official website.
Keep up with them daily over on Facebook.