Ah, the supergroup side project. Self-indulgent? Sure. An outlet for big-time musicians looking to loosen up and recharge their stores of inspiration by playing with other talented folks? That too. For over 15 years, The Minus Five, with its revolving lineup, has remained the epitome of a supergroup side project.
This time around, M5 mainstays Scott McCaughey (The Young Fresh Fellows) and Peter Buck (REM) join forces with Portland pedal steel guitarist Tucker Jackson plus members of The Decembrists, the She Bee Gees, and The Posies to produce Killingsworth, a notably Portland-centric but otherwise forgettable album.
With M5, the question is: What's in it for the fans? Portlanders might be psyched to see several of their high-profile local favorites loving it up on stage, but the recorded version—while loose, good-natured, melodic, and professional—is kind of a yawn. The lyrics are clever and fun, the instruments sound nice, the voices mesh wonderfully, but the songs sound identical.
On the album's only standout tune, "I Would Rather Sacrifice You," singers trade verses and join sweetly on the chorus of the Carter Family-style gospel sing-along, finally translating some of that fun they seem be having to the listener here at home.