Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Happy Holidays


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This trio of sludgy, idiosyncratic recordings represent the solo work of Squash/Rats on Wheels/DFR vocalist/guitarist Kennedy Applefield. The scrap-tastic “Gabe” is all kazoos, twee “ba-pa-pa” vocals, and guitars Nineties enough to reactivate your broken GameBoy Color. “April” is the least interesting of the bunch, a dreary groove that trails off into nothingness by way of a pretty but insubstantial drone. But “Crush” is the masterpiece here, a two-part, twelve-and-a-half-minute ambient-punk behemoth that has Applefield moaning incomprehensibly in the background and letting his vocals disappear casually into the dense fog of distorted guitar. The drums on “Crush” were provided by former Squash member Clay Cobb, who died at the age of fourteen shortly after the recording was made. It’s a worthy last recording for any musicians, and many of the greatest deceased rock stars would have had a guitar battle with Death himself to go out with such a bang.


“My Old Home”

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Tumbleweed Wanderers promised glockenspiel, and glockenspiel is what we got. What they didn’t promise is that they would feature it in a song as great as “My Old Home,” which is basically their mission statement set to music. In this sad but hopeful folk-pop tune, Zak Mandel-Romann and Jeremy Lyon sing of revisiting their old home and their old lives, finding the record store closed, the clubs destroyed, and the music scene gone. Solution: play some rock n’ roll. It’s the perfect requiem for the wave of teenage garage-pop bands the duo spearheaded a year and a half ago as part of the Audiophiles, but upon accepting its fate, the duo prefers to move on, visiting an old friend instead of wasting any more time playing for a lost audience. As much as we’d all love to hear another “Nerd Chic” or “The End,” maybe their decision was for the best.

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