The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday September 25th

Billy Dechand Band Proves Interesting But Imperfect

3 Stars

In the current stagnant waters of mediocre music, it can be said with great relief that there is absolutely nothing mediocre about World Famous in Chapel Hill.

More often than not the album is both excellent and original. But on the other hand, several tracks will have even the laziest of people leaping from the couch to skip past them.

While The Billy Dechand Band has an extensive discography under its belt, it still seems to be feeling its way around what styles it can and cannot do.

Somehow mixing the lilting folk sounds of Elliott Smith with the timing and style of Weezer, the better part of the album is one of the more exciting releases from a local band in a while.

Experimenting with elements that are both complex and beautiful, the band plays with close harmonies in the same vein as college-favored band Guster. It takes this kind of well-advised abandon and applies it to its instrumentation, with string arrangements, accordion, clarinet and even a didjeridu.

World Famous in Chapel Hill's best tracks have a meter that sways, using a simple beat pattern that is currently making bands like Travis famous. Its worst tracks seem like piecemeal blends of music that most of us spent the early '90s attempting to forget.

But the band does know how to use the creative tension of well-crafted harmonies and instrumentation.

The music moves and builds like turbulent water, and then it breaks -- as if the chaos of the rapids just reached the vastness of the ocean.

Illustrating the band's lyrical and harmonic talent, the track "Bike Back" is comic, catchy and playful. After the first listen, you're singing it on your way out the door.

Yet you can only push playful so far, and then it just becomes irritating. Taking a tragic spin towards blues and old-school rock in "Fu Fu Bunny," you are left wondering where the track "Hard Moon Crash" went. It was really good, and you want it back.

One can only hope that the band itself comes back with a CD that showcases its more impressive assets. With any luck, World Famous in Chapel Hill is just a great band's attempt at sowing its wild oats, with consistently incredible music yet to come.

And if the above sounds like a layer cake of ice cream and lima beans -- that's OK. Some tracks on this album are perfectly placed, while others hurl themselves into places they don't belong. Like a stripper at a wedding, it makes a good story but not exactly a happy ending.

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