Posted on July 6th, 2013 (8:07 am) by Michael Mangarella

Rock and roll (the real stuff, mind you) has always been the musical call of the wild: the sound of the rebellious, the all-or-nothing chorus of the disenfranchised. Its simple, swift, three-chord sound has regaled as much as it has reviled. Its lyrics, the kind of patter mostly heard in modern anger management sessions, are based on an anarchistic defiance of authority and getting back at your ex-girlfriend. On the other hand, pop, rock’s optimistic, all too often goofy cousin sings songs of hope, love, and well, getting back with your ex-girlfriend.

The Mowgli’s, an eight-piece pop ensemble from the sunny confines of Southern California, cast off the aspersions of the new millennium’s cynicism, and the rebellious conventions of rock and roll for that matter, to create breezy, upbeat pop, spiked with a soft folk/psychedelic underbelly. On their 2012 debut, Sound The Drum, they mixed the pot with uplifting power pop and sing-along folk that endeared them to misty-eyed optimists yearning for an upbeat message. Their EP, 2013’s Love’s Not Dead was obviously so much fun, the band decided to relive the moment by placing all five of the tracks on this, their latest, Waiting For The Dawn.

It opens with, “San Francisco,” a jangly, groovy little piece complete with Up With People choruses, propelled by a horn-driven rhythm section. “Slowly, Slowly,” the best cut on the album, and (surprise, surprise) the closest thing to a rocker that you’re going to find here, is guided by slashing guitars, a rollicking keyboard and an edgy vocal that gives the song a sense of urgency. "Love Is Easy" comes off as a late '60s Cowsills retread complete with choruses that build to a crescendo of more choruses. If by now the shouting choruses that are in fact leads are becoming a little wearisome, “Clean Light” mixes it up with a whistling chorus (Hey, there goes Opie and Andy, heading down to the fishing hole!). The keyboard-driven, “The Great Divide,” maintains the feel good vibe ad nauseum. With such “eye-opening” lyrics as “Let your faith be your fate,” “Carry Your Will” left this listener thinking he had woke up naked in the middle of a Tony Robbins seminar.

It seems that The Mowgli’s have loftier aspirations than just crafting feel-good pop music. Guitarist, Colin Dieden was quoted in a "USA Today" article trumpeting the release of their latest effort as saying, “We’re trying to create a movement based on love, to make art for the purpose of love to better this planet and our species.” Now, that’s admirable, but until an acoustic guitar puts an end to dysentery in Africa, or sing-along choruses become the anodyne for world hunger, Mr. Dieden might want to stick to safer, more mundane efforts, like putting a little less sugar and a tad more vinegar into a sound that despite its personal, well- meaning efforts is enough to throw us all into a diabetic coma. Or else, join the damn Peace Corps.

Track List:
1. San Francisco
2. Slowly, Slowly
3. Waiting For The Dawn
4. Love Is Easy
5. Clean Light
6. Time
7. Emily
8. The Great Divide
9. Say It, Just Say It
10. Leave It Up To Me
11. Carry Your Will
12. Hi, Hey There, Hello
13. We Are Free
14. See I’m Alive

The Mowgli's, Waiting For The Dawn, pop, California
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

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