Quality: 3.25 out of 5
Trip-O-Meter: 3 out of 5
I have to admit that I'm not a J.R.R. Tolkien fan. I've never been able to make it through the book despite several attempts, and I spent most of my time in the theater for the first Lord of the Rings movie doing my Mystery Science Theater impression (granted I also had a couple of martinis in my for that viewing). Fortunately, the New Hobbits don't seem to have more than a superficial connection to those works, although I imagine this may be unfortunate for some of you. What we get instead is some solid AM-pop in the mold of the Grass Roots. This music is far from experimental, but you will find so juicy hooks that might worm their way into your brain. It also features lower-fi, more ragged production than the more famous AM-pop herd. I see this as a positive thing.
The first track, "You Could Have Made it Easy," just happens to be one of the catchiest with a groovy horn arrangement and a propulsive beat. Many of the other tracks anticipate the soft rock of the 70's, so I'm more entertained by the paranoid Band rip-off entitled "The Devil's Gonna Get Me," even though it does feature an embarrassingly out-of-tune piano in the mix. "Underground" features what I consider the best melody on the disc and drifts the closest to the psych/sunshine pop sphere. "Love Can Set You Free" is like the pauper prison's rendition of "All You Need is Love."
There's a couple of keepers here, but this is more like the album you might have bought from the house band at the Holiday Inn after an evening of business dinner binge drinking in 1969, not that I've ever been a businessman or alive in 1969 (although I think I have stayed at a Holiday Inn). Still, if you can live with that comparison, then you will probably find something to enjoy here. For me, I guess the key appeal here is with the "You Could Have Made it Easy," "Underground," and the very groovy cover art.