"Gasoline," the ringing standout on Johnny Miles' second album Sign of the Times, has the hard-bitten self-awareness of a protest song as well as a hooky alt-country catchiness that recalls early Wilco. (Miles covers a more recent Wilco entry, "Break My Heart," on his MySpace page.) The lyrics are commanding yet vague: "This is a song about gasoline/ About golden arches and nicotine/ About handguns and ice cream."
It's a quick scribble across the American landscape, something it sounds like Miles is largely fed up with but still endeared to. "This is a song about the old friends that you see around every now and then," he sings, "but you can't relate and you won't pretend." Later he's even more resigned, spitting, "The whole thing is a lottery that you won't hear on the radio" and then, "This is a song 'cause I said so."
The album title alone tells us Miles is taking stock of the world around him. And yep, he's plenty frustrated. On the title track he admits, "The only thing I can think to do is yell about it in a ballad." As harmonica and piano flesh out the folky swagger of its "American Pie"-ish build, Miles has the good sense to couch his singer/songwriter-isms in a lively full-band arrangement.
Ditto much of the album. "Paralyzed in Love" is a shuffling weeper made more poignant by a sparkling undercurrent of piano, while "Turn and Draw" is a back-porch rocker shot through with friendly carousing and mean guitar damage. When he sings softly, Miles sounds a bit like Mutations-era Beck, but he's often too livid or too elated to sing softly. That's fine too, considering Miles enlists some of Philly's stronger rock and country talent to back him up and drive his songs home.
Read more: http://www.philadelphiaweekly.com/music/umm__drop-38464139.html#ixzz35zPGCLQT