3 out of 5
Label: Asian Man Records
Produced by: Dan Potthast
Dan Potthast can be a little cheesy. It’s part of the artist’s charm, for sure, but that cheesiness works best – to me – when it’s tempered by some snark, or as mixed in to other narratives. As a solo artist – away from The Bricks, or mu330, or etc. – Dan’s albums center around solo acoustic guitar work, and when you combine that with cheese, it makes for a particularly campfire-esque tone that’s entirely pleasant, but can reach a breaking point without that tempering. And for a few years, it felt like Dan was using his solo platform to purposefully avoid that tempering, going with themed discs, or off-the-cuff discs, or, with My Living Room, intimate, quick lil’ sketches that are meant to arrive without expectation – to just be good, enjoyable songs; a personal performance in your living room. Are the tracks on My Living Room good and enjoyable? Yes, absolutely. But there’s a lot of cheese here, and that can distract from that, and also allows some of this work to be very, very rote – a few chords and a hummable melody. But spread around the disc, we also get flashes of punkier passion (600 miles), or some accompaniment (We Get Around) that really helps to flesh out the singalong vibe and tip it over into infectiousness, which is a plus. And Dan can’t wallow too long in cheese without finding his way to some clever lines and quirkier thoughts, not to mention the high percentage of hooks to be found here – for every predictable or familiar progression, there’s probably a killer riff right around the corner.
Overall, things are varied enough so that we’re not by the campfire for super long stretches, making My Living Room good filler Potthast material. But as with the previous couple albums, this is all very demo-y feeling, which is good if it gets Dan stretching his musical fingers for tighter material / albums as a solo artist, or in his other groups.