Fleeting Days The pleasure of Bern's records has always been the roller-coaster ride between his topical folkie wit and his unlikely desire to be a heartland roots… Fleeting Days The pleasure of Bern's records has always been the roller-coaster ride between his topical folkie wit and his unlikely desire to be a heartland roots… 2003-03-11 Dan Bern
Music Review

The Swastika E.P., Fleeting Days (2003)

EW's GRADE
B

Details Release Date: Mar 11, 2003; Lead Performance: Dan Bern

The pleasure of Bern's records has always been the roller-coaster ride between his topical folkie wit and his unlikely desire to be a heartland roots rocker. So maybe these discs should've been a twofer. Swastika could've been called The Hot Button EP; it weaves polemics and punchlines with a humanity Bill Maher should study. Opening with ''Talkin' Al Kida Blues,'' it reclaims the titular icon in the spirit of the Marx Brothers, and ends with a searing meditation on the impossibility -- and importance -- of fleeing history. Swastika's stripped-down music has to run to keep up with the oratory, unlike the Mellencampy Fleeting Days, which has some of the most well-built songs of Bern's career. But except for the one about puking up Waffle House cheese grits en route to Graceland, the heart-baring Days is short on the head-turning lyrics of his best stuff. BIGGER BALLS In December, the tireless Bern followed up his signature ''Tiger Woods'' with World Cup, an EP-book combo flashing more sports-obsessed sociology. Swastika: A- Days: B

Originally posted May 07, 2003 Published in issue #709 May 09, 2003 Order article reprints
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