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"Anybody who compares us to The Buzzcocks gets a slug, usually."
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Tim Lee 3 - good2b3 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   
ImageTim Lee 3
[Paisley Pop]

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One of the best Christmas Eves I’ve experienced as an adult came last year. My parents were in the middle of moving, so we weren’t really doing a big family get together. My roommate was gone and I was home by myself when Tim Lee called me up. He and his wife Susan were in Atlanta visiting relatives, were staying at the Highland Inn and were wondering if I wanted to go grab a beer. Heck yes I do. So after some wandering around we were pleased to find the Local open and pouring; securing a corner booth, we ordered pitcher after pitcher and proceeded to jabber about music and bands and rock ‘n’ roll until near closing time. And we could’ve gone ’til dawn had Tim and Susan not had morning obligations. They’re my kind of folks, people I can relate to, which I rarely find anymore. I feel more disconnected from the world with every new day. I feel no connection with anyone. Sometimes I feel like I don’t even speak this language, like I woke up in a country I don’t recognize. Thinking about a friend I’ll never see again. Thinking I’ll never know what happened. Thinking I’ll never know anything. Never know anything that matters.

I don’t know how I got off on that depressing tangent, but back to Tim and Susan, it seems like I’ve known them forever, but it’s really only been a few years. That sort of instant familiarity comes through in the music they make (with drummer Rodney Cash) as the Tim Lee 3. good2b3 is their first album since they adopted the band moniker, instead of just going under Lee’s name, and while it bears much in common with Lee’s three previous albums – 2003’s “where’ve you been?” comeback Under the House, the following year’s near-flawless No Discretion and the almost-as-solid Concrete Dog from ’06 – it feels more like the product of an actual, working outfit than ever. Bassist Susan, who’s been gradually coming into her own on the prior two records, really steps to the forefront this time. She co-wrote all of the songs with her husband, and her vocal harmonies with Tim carry the album’s best tracks.

Listening to good2b3 (yeah, it’s a crappy title) may remind you of old bands or old friends, although that’s due more to Tim’s musical style and long history than anything. “’Til the Roof Caves In” lurches and plows in ’80s kudzu-rock style, like a lost track from Guadalcanal Diary or, more plausibly, Tim’s old outfit The Windbreakers. “Saving Gracie” adds a touch of Flannery O’Connor-style fraying ol’ woman Southern Gothicness to the stew, making for one of the album’s most effective lyrical showings. “Get Away Clean” alternates Tim and Susan’s voices in a way that recalls some of X’s material, while “Carried Away” and “Joy” channel a classic Crazy Horse vibe. “Chronic Liar” rings darkly, like vintage R.E.M., and is my pick for the album’s high point, although that could be disputed by “Just One More,” originally recorded for Tim’s Larry Brown tribute album.

While the disc loses some of its steam in its homestretch, the Tim Lee 3 are a solid band whose experience has only added to their strength. Their simple roots-rock occasionally soars to majestic heights few comparable acts attain, and their best lyrics are unpretentious but vivid portraits of life in our neck of the woods. Things aren’t that different in the South, but the Lees have that rare ability to tap into the elements that make this region and its people unique, rarely sounding clichéd. And even the clichés sorta ring true.
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