Brainwasher (Immortal/Virgin)

Bare Jr. 

Brainwasher (Immortal/Virgin)

Bare Jr., a loud, melodic rock band fronted by the son of country songwriter Bobby Bare, has managed to fly under almost everyone's radar. Nobody, including its label, seems to know what to make of a power-drive rock band with a featured dulcimer player, which is why these poor guys wound up trying to win over the world from the second stage of the final H.O.R.D.E. tour. Definitely not a jam band, Bare Jr. has a few too many arena moments to tickle roots folks, yet Bare's voice and lyrics carry too much Nashville to work for either modern-rock or art-school downloaders.

It's too bad that the group is having such difficulty drawing a crowd; Brainwasher offers plenty of genuine rock and roll moments, and Bare's an honors graduate from the "walking wounded but still willing to take a pratfall" school of songwriting. On the title track, Bare cries out for someone to "wash my brain" as if he's searching for baptism, while a few songs later, on "God" he mourns God don't even know my name. He's no slouch with backhanded break-up songs, either. "You Never Knew (I Lied)" is a lost lover's "nyaah-nyaah" litany of girls he'd successfully lied about before she left, while in "Dog," Bare wishes he were his lover's dog so he would get treated better. Actually, maybe that's a song about the band's career -- Bare Jr. deserves to be taken out for a lot more walks.

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