The Successful Failures--Captains of Industry, Captains of War (FDR).
Formed in 2005 and named for a 1901 Jack London story, Minions of Midas, Chesterfield, NJ trio The Successful Failures perfect their respected craft on their new fifth LP, Captains of Industry, Captains of War (FDR). Already a dependable, refreshingly honest, smart rock ‘n’ roll band with a first rate singer/songwriter in ageless ex-Dipsomanics leader Mick Chorba, they seamlessly mix melodic classic power-pop, garage rock, and unaffected rock ’n’ roll with roots-inflected rock and winsome, harmonic pop. And on Captains, Chorba’s stubborn, gripping hooks and thoughtful-as-ever lyrics, Ron Bechamps supple bass and vocal harmonies, and Rob Martin’s powerful pounding feels particularly timeless. It’s an insistent yet smooth attack not unlike The Replacements, Cheap Trick, Superdrag, or contemporary Teenage Fanclub, Sloan, and Nada Surf.
Also, Captains again shows impressive range, pleasantly sprinkling in acoustic-built gems such as the elegiac, quietly heartbreaking, piano-fed “Falling Out” and “Meal” alongside sublime guitar rockers such as “Stagger Lee” (an twist on the wicked protagonist of the 19th Century folk/R&B classic with a reference to a 1969 Neil Young LP), “Sunny,” and the evocative—of another folklore archetype—“John Henry.” Like The Replacements’ Pleased, Captains sees The Successful Failures slimmed from a quartet to their initial threesome. Second guitarist John Williams “had to leave to open a running store,” explains Chorba,” bringing them “back to the original roots: songs I wrote that are band arranged. Some are more on the alt.country
side, but we wanted it to be an up-tempo rock ’n’ roll record. We record live, no click track, so it has the right energy, at our studio FDR studio C.”
In addition to their new EP, Pine Hill, covering Old Crow Medicine Show, Johnny Cash, and Hank Williams Sr., The Successful Failures often do acoustic shows with covers of Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, and Irish folk. Clearly they do it all, with spirit, intelligence, determination, and sneaky power. And Captains is their best.
—Jack Rabid, editor and publisher, The Big Takeover Magazine