Remember the movie Bill And Ted's Excellent Adventure? It's about these two dudes who are blessed with a phone booth that allows them to travel through time and encounter different mile markers in history. Well, they had a parallel quest with Chapel Hill's musical Pu Pu platter, Memphis. Instead of a phone booth, though, Memphis members probably have a van. And instead of chasing down Socrates and Billy The Kid, they explore the history of rock's styles through 13 songs on their album Cheap Poems.
Though the stage is set with a Southern backdrop held together by twangy, happily distorted guitar work and pedal steel, Memphis break out the saxophone here and there and even take a stab at funk in the song "Cold Drink," which was unfortunately recorded after the soundtrack to Boogie Nights was negotiated. The band also flirts with surf on "Corner of Time," looks in on lounge with "Amplifiers Twisting Sound," and remembers the sounds of young alternative on "Broken Pavement." The song "Don't Forget" creeps in acoustically and explodes into an eager, catchy modern rock ballad. On the passion scale, it stands out among the rest and feels closest to what Memphis would sound like if they settled down to one genre.
While the album provides all the temptations for faultfinders to yell "Pick a lane," the dusky vocals from Scott Morgan keep the whole effort low to the ground and consistent. But if a finger must be placed on a particular Memphis style, let it be one that has grazed record stacks for the perfect blend of Uncle Tupelo, The Doors, a dose of attitude and hickory smoke in the wind. Bottom line: Memphis isn't just in the Southeast; it's all over the map. But no matter where you're standing, this is the kind of band you'll want to hear when you pull the bar door open.