What if a drug existed that gave you energy, inspired you toward happiness, was only addictive in the most positive sense and cost under $20 for a near-lifetime supply? What if all that was true of a particular new CD? Music is just about the cheapest mood-altering substance out there. Let's say I bought City of Subdued Excitement, the new album by the Bellingham, Wash.-based Yogoman Burning Band, for $15. With eight tracks, that's $1.88 per song. Even if I only listen to the whole CD three times, that's only 63 cents per song per listen. Yes, for far less than, say, sunshine in a bag, you get summertime in a compact disc. And much as the rain proves necessary, who isn't ready for longer days and the accompanying exuberance they bring?
City of Subdued Excitement bursts forth with abandon. The second track fearlessly announces "I Got Joy," with none of the self-deprecating irony so many bands feel must qualify any expression of cheerfulness -- and without any of the corniness oft inherent in such expressions. By the time the third track, "Show Me," is reached, a sense of rightness and adventure permeates to the extent that even a drive to work takes on the anticipation more akin to a road trip. Somewhere warm. You'll want to sing, you'll want to dance, you'll leave the CD in the car stereo, remembering when listening to reggae felt novel and soul music tapped into something special. This is not your generic party music -- Yogoman Burning Band is to predictable repetitive beats as Sacred Grounds is to Folgers. As Cypress Grove is to Velveeta. As shaking your booty is to sitting in front of a computer all day long.
As if any doubt existed regarding the sensations triggered by listening to "City of Subdued Excitement," longtime champion of Yogoman Burning Band, KHUM "Afternoon Delight" DJ Larry Trask confirmed them in 10 words describing the band: "Unique. Happy. Positive. Dancing. Soulful. Thoughtful. Fun. Great musicians. Love." Speaking of such sensations, things slow down and sex up on the fourth (and my favorite track), the sultry "Boomerang." The bouncing turns to swaying and the flirting ratchets up a notch or five. Before you get totally carried away, though, "If You Don't" swings the mood back around to something more innocent, but no less encouraging: "If you don't feel all right today/you can try again tonight/If you don't feel all right tonight/you can try again tomorrow." Things get weird and rocking with "Christmas Manifesto," displaying yet another side of the band's multifaceted personality. And if you're looking for that last song to slow dance to, Yogoman Burning Band provides with the fitting, "Slow Song," a sweet and satisfying ending. Reason enough to pick up a copy Friday night when Yogoman Burning Band plays at the Red Fox Tavern.