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Alternative & Indie - Released August 21, 2015 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released June 20, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

The debut EP by the Kentucky trio White Reaper is a bracing blast of garage punk bubblegum that hits the sweet spot between grungy garage rock guitar noise and handclapping pop, and ends up sounding like Nobunny on steroids or a more together version of most of the bands on Burger Records. It kicks off with "Cool," an impossibly catchy, midtempo, perfect-world hit single that's the kind of song you want to replay four or five times before moving on to the next. Skipping ahead is a good idea, because the rest of the too-brief EP is almost as good, if a little more raucous and unhinged-sounding. On the far side of the noise/pop equation from "Cool," the fuzz-powered "Conspirator" sounds like a teenage punk take on Mudhoney as they pummel their instruments Tony Esposito's vocal breathlessly yelps out the chorus. Throughout the record, the lads balance energy and melody like plate spinners, keeping everything aloft and rotating like mad. It's an impressive debut that has at least two songs most garage punkers would give their favorite, tattered denim jacket to have in their repertoire. Hopefully, they won't lose the white-hot spark that fuels them on future records, but even if they do they'll be able to look back on this EP in their golden years and know that once upon a time, they really and truly rocked. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released January 21, 2014 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released July 13, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released April 27, 2009 | Polyvinyl Records

Following a rather nondescript second album, Wisconsin's Paris, Texas returned with this five-song EP and a new guitar player, Nolan Treolo, to replace the departed Matt Mangan. The problem with the previous effort, though, was not the guitar playing, it was in the songwriting. The band seemed caught halfway between a conventional indie rock mode and more experimental post-rock noodling, and singer Scott Sharpe couldn't figure out if he was a punk singer or Lou Reed disciple long enough to stay in tune. The playing itself was pretty interesting. The guitars scraped out some lovely, angular chords, and Matt Tennessen's bass work was propulsive (though not as endlessly intriguing as it is in Pele), but the songs simply were not there. That would have been fine if the noise itself was Paris, Texas' object, but they clearly meant to convey punk-pop melodies, and those melodies lacked any sort of distinctiveness. Whether it is a result of the slightly altered lineup or simply maturation, Brazilliant is a dramatic rejuvenation of their previous sound. The band have astutely moved Tennessen's amazing, bulbous bass to the forefront until it is almost the lead melodic instrument, leaving the discordant guitars to scratch out texture, and dropping Sharpe's vocals beneath the fray where they can be more effective as another instrument rather than as a focal point. Although the album title implies bossa nova or some other melodically sunny form of exotica, the album still features intense rock music that is informed by the punk aesthetic with, interestingly enough, a bit of classic arena rock thrown in. The songwriting is honed considerably as well, the pop-style melodies exchanged for more open-ended song structures that suit the band's strengths. The songs are still not wholly satisfying, but they are improved. And it may not yet be brilliant, but Brazilliant is a strong step in the right direction. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released July 24, 2007 | Polyvinyl Records

Following the 2000 release of Brazilliant comes the second EP from Paris, Texas, Action Fans Help Us! This five-song juggernaut finds the Wisconsin five-piece at its best, and fans will be pleased with the band's solid, non-emo sound. It's raw rock & roll, punchy in spots, but heavy-hitting all the way. The title track bounces with the twin guitar work of Nick Zinkgraf and Nolan Treolo, while frontman Scott Sherpe's angst-y frenetic vocals are equally powerful. "Your Death" isn't as grim as it sounds, nor is "One Hot Coma," but the initial setup of Action Fans Help Us! clues listeners in to Paris, Texas' slick work in progress. Listeners merely got a taste of it on Brazilliant, and unfortunately this mini-album isn't long enough to tie fans over until the next full-length. In the meantime, Action Fans Help Us! will have to do. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released November 15, 2005 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released January 25, 2005 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released November 9, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Mates of State's 2004 EP All Day is a disappointment. Not because of the music -- no, that is as sunny and brilliant as ever -- but because the duo didn't deliver a full-length album instead. Once you get over the initial pain of that, you are left with four wonderful tracks that are some of their best, fullest, and most melodic work yet. The songs are again built around Jason Hammel's drums; Kori Gardner's piano, organ, and synths; and the couple's beautifully artless vocals. This time there is a little bit of guitar thrown in, too. "Goods (All in Your Head)" and "Along for the Ride" are typically twisting, energetic indie rock songs played with an excess of brains and power. "Drop and Anchor" is a departure, a pretty piano ballad with back-and-forth vocals that take a while to meet, but when they do it creates sparks. Their cover of David Bowie's "Starman" is painless fun, one of the chirpiest covers of a Bowie tune you are liable to hear. Four songs are better than none, especially when they signal that Mates of State are getting better. Bring on the next album! © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 26, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

The first release from ex-Cap'N Jazz/Joan of Arc guitarist Mike Kinsella. Light, refreshing melodies of dual guitars and no bass layered with soft, pitter-pattering, slow rhythms are complemented by Kinsella's high pitched, syrupy vocals. All in all, this three-song disc will leave you anxious to hear more. "'Letters and Packages" is perhaps the most compelling song of the three -- a quiet sort of driving piece that weaves through the ears gracefully. © Blake Butler /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Aloha display their dazzlingly accessible post-rock grafting of jazz, prog-rock, spacy electronics, and pop on this superb five-song, 20-minute EP. The record has something of a live feel, giving the listener a quick snatch of what the actual Aloha experience is all about: by turns laconic, loose, taut, and electric; one moment diving into electronic expanses, the next offering up a sweet, lazy pop song, and then imploding into a phased, agitated jazz jam. In fact, the album was captured in two days (with an additional few days of overdubs and mixing), so the off-the-cuff energy is not simply a lucky by-product, but a true representation of the band. As could be expected, the instrumentation is ridiculously eclectic. On the basic instrumentation side, Tony Cavallario's rhythm guitar playing is infinitely textured and interesting, while Matthew Gengler's bass sounds bottomless and shows an unparalleled grasp of spatial depth; beneath their interplay, Cale Parks scatters atmospheric snare and cymbal beats in every direction, as if John Densmore were backing Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. Eric Koltnow is the linchpin of the band's complex mixture. He plays everything from piano and synthesizer to glockenspiel, but it's his vibe playing that's directly at the center of the Aloha sound. Vibes take over songs such as "Roanoke Born" and "Gary's Narrator," sending them into ethereal jazz territory. Equally important in all this, though, are Cavallario's lovely vocals. His voice sketches out what are, for all intents and purposes, relaxed pop melodies. To call Aloha a pop band, however, is misleading and too constrictive for their beautiful music. They end The Great Communicators with an electronically ominous instrumental, and it is that tension between their pretty (albeit idiosyncratic) pop inclinations and their complex, percussive instrumental attack that makes Aloha's music so immaculately evocative. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Featuring Robert Nanna, Damon Atkinson , and Todd Bell, all members of the emotional and angular rock powerhouse Braid, as well as newcomer Mark Dawursk, Hey Mercedes started off with a comfortable niche all set for them to slip into. On their debut EP, the Chicago foursome can occasionally be heard dropping into a bit of that same groove their last project dwelled on, but at the same time Hey Mercedes has a more flowing rock sound and a more immediately catchy idea and use of melody. The four songs that grace their first release are powerful harmonious rockers, and Nanna's croon, while at times reminiscent of Jawbox's J. Robbins, is a hearty and believable addendum to the already enjoyable music. Complete with tight stops, complex drumming, and engaging song structures, tracks like "Bells" and "Stay Six" take the already memorable style that defined Braid and add an even more pop-oriented feel to the proceedings. The result is a snapshot of a new band dealing with their past and making some serious headway with a sound they already helped to define. Hey Mercedes' first EP may only contain four tracks, but there isn't a bad one in the batch and they all have the ability to become memorable after only a few listens. © Peter J. D'Angelo /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records