Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains - Caught in the Act of Not Being Awesome (Cover Artwork)

Johnny Hobo & The Freight Trains

Caught in the Act of Not Being Awesome (2005)

Spare Change Records

Music, at its best, is a medium by which an artist conveys his or her most personal emotions and ideas, and Johnny Hobo & the Freight Trains' Caught in the Act of Not Being Awesome is a prime example of this sentiment; few albums manage to evoke emotion with such clarity.

The album drifts from melancholia to misanthropy to sarcasm, and hovers on the edge of a major and a minor key throughout the journey. The songs are always desperate, but somehow manage to foster glimmers of hope in the midst of their darkness. There is always a sense of yearning for a way out in the songs, and for Pat the Bunny, the way out is always seems to be drugs. The songs are raw, and certainly rough around the edges, but clean production would only serve to take away from the beauty of the music. Some songs are vehemently misanthropic, while others are ripe with regret, yet all of them are honest and sincere. "New Mexico Song" is anthemic, and makes me want to pick up my copy of On the Road, strap a guitar to my back and hop the next train out of the city. "Whiskey Is My Kind Of Lullaby" is a ballad of wasted youth, soaked in liquor and nostalgia that finds twisted humor in the deepest pits of rock bottom.

If you're the sort of person who romanticizes the freedom of the open road, I can think of no better soundtrack than this album. The songs make me smile, and bring tears to my eyes in a single motion, and I think that is what's most interesting about the songwriting; there is a struggle woven into the music that never seems to resolve itself on the album, and as you dig deeper into the music, you uncover a sense of deep-rooted sorrow, and the sense of depth in the music is what makes this album so interesting to me. As I understand it, Pat the Bunny found his way out and left the calamity of drug abuse behind, but this album will forever remain the story of a darker time in his life.