Review

Flying by the seat of their pants, Southern indie rockers Lucero have eked out a career in music despite never receiving a royalty check from their first record company and watching their second label close its doors right as the band was getting hot. Add a charismatic, heartfelt ruffian as lead singer, a never-ending tour schedule, and a Replacements-like show that's brilliance on the brink of drunken disaster, and you've got one heck of a story. Inspired by films like D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back, filmmaker Aaron Goldman captures life on the road with Lucero on Dreaming in America, a well-put-together documentary that pulls for the band without becoming an electronic press kit. The first half of the film focuses on the band stuck in cult limbo while the second half deals with an odd opportunity that allows Lucero to become part of the Warner Bros. family without selling their souls or master tapes. The deal finds Lucero forming their own label, Liberty & Lament, and tying it to the Warner-related East West company in a relationship where either party can walk away "intact." For the non-faithful, the first half of the film dwells a bit too much on how these guys should make it, how their fans are zealous, and how much they're just like the Replacements with a Jim Dickinson-produced album and lyrics about liquor stores in the moonlight. Sticking with it pays dividends, as this rough-and-tumble, "never sell out" band comes to terms with the idea of any relationship with a major label. Watching the bandmembers struggle with the idea is fascinating, as their firm explanations for why they did it slowly become internal debates in front of the camera, but everyone agrees they couldn't have kept going they way they were very much longer. For fans, this is a no-brainer, but for anyone interested in a more beer-stained, "get in the van" version of the Wilco biopic I Am Trying to Break Your Heart, Dreaming in America is worth a look. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

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