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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

American Football existed for a blink of an eye, coming together in the late '90s in a small Midwestern college town out of a small but enthusiastic pool of young musicians. The band, consisting of Cap'n Jazz/Joan of Arc alumni Mike Kinsella as well as guitarist Steve Holmes and drummer Steve Lamos, played only a few live dates before devolving into a recording project and then silently disappearing altogether around 2000. Apart from a three-song EP, their self-titled 1999 album was all the trio left behind, its nine songs exploring a hushed, thoughtful take on the often more aggressive tones of the hardcore-birthed emo scene. American Football's songs dig deep into uncommon time signatures and jazz-influenced chords, and even implement understated trumpet and electric piano into their web of interlocking guitar runs and muted, softly smiling vocals. Happening concordantly with a thriving post-rock movement hubbed close by in Chicago, the band has hints of the same musical crosscurrents of Tortoise or Gastr del Sol, setting their songs apart from the flock. The airy riff in 3/4 time and Kinsella's buried, eager vocals on opening song "Never Meant" set the tone for an album of soft-spoken yet high-spirited songs not quite like any of the band's emo contemporaries. The band seemed primarily focused on instrumental composition, with fully instrumental tracks like "You Know I Should Be Leaving Soon" and "The One with the Wurlitzer" standing out and vocals sounding like a floating, distanced element on many of the tunes that include them. The lilting, mysterious tone of the album is only occasionally broken up by an upbeat rocker like "I'll See You When We're Both Not So Emotional," where the band marries its jazz-influenced chops to the same kind of wide-eyed emo pop the Promise Ring was making at the time. Kinsella would go on to release solo material as Owen, drawing on the same soft-focus melodies he employed with American Football, but the collaborative magic he found with Holmes and Lamos would never quite be recaptured in any of the three's future projects. Every song here manages to sound meticulously constructed without diminishing the easy, often dreamlike feel of the album. The record is defined by a sense of possibility and youthful discovery, and stands out not just as an anomalistic emo-jazz hybrid but as a lasting, iconic statement in the often blurry history of independent music. © Fred Thomas /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

This self-titled release is comprised of nine songs recorded at Mike Kinsella's own home studio, using his own equipment. Kinsella also performed all the music, did all the mixing, and recorded the whole thing. Despite what many might think, it all sounds very good. Musically, this release finds Kinsella extending where American Football (his former project) was headed. Many of the guitar parts are reminiscent of the delicate tones that short-lived act displayed, and Kinsella's voice is patterned in the same generous emotional helpings. And in that regard, his voice is the carrier of the infectiously morose tales which only a Kinsella is capable of weaving. Carrying the bulk of the weight of a project via his vocals doesn't seem to phase him, however, as they are pulled off in a stellar manner and sound just as good, if not better than the American Football albums. Kinsella fans and specifically American Football fans will appreciate this, but beyond that, Owen has a wider appeal to fans of the singer/songwriter genre in general. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Picking up where his self-titled debut left off, No Good for No One Now is Mike Kinsella's second album under the Owen moniker. The seven tunes lay out on the table for all to see Kinsella's self-deprecation in the tenderest form: an album dedicated to his feelings of worthlessness and frustration about a lost relation. With song titles such as "Nobody's Nothing" and "The Ghost of What Should've Been," it's quite clear that Kinsella's not letting anyone in for 40 minutes of upbeat joy. Rather, displaying raw honesty that parallels some of the better Red House Painters or Mark Kozelek moments, Kinsella takes the listener through song after song of the one that got away. "Poor Souls" talks of lonely nights in a bar looking for that perfect one, but instead heading home alone. "Everyone Feels Like You" serves as a reminder that indeed, there are others out there with the same broken heart as yours, so the best thing to do is to get together, have some drinks, and realize that you're all in this together. The epic final tune, "Take Care of Yourself," is a ten-minute-long song in which the singer recognizes his failures in the relationship and makes a plea for his ex-girlfriend to stay. The tunes are all gently woven with sensitive acoustic guitar and light drums. Throughout the majority of the song "Good Deeds," the guitar is played with harp-like delicacy, creating a heavenly atmosphere more elegant than anything else displayed on the album. For the rest of the songs, everything is kept simple, as it's the vocals and the lyrics behind them that are meant to be the focus of the album. Mike Kinsella may not be as well known as his older brother, Tim Kinsella (Joan of Arc, Owls, Cap'n Jazz), but it's quite irrelevant since Mike is creating beautifully introspective music in his own right. No Good for No One Now is no doubt another big step down the path to success for Owen. © Kurt Morris /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

If nothing else, with the release of Long Knives Drawn, Rainer Maria have shown everyone one thing: nine is their magic number. Four LPs under their belts and four albums with exactly nine songs. Not too typical, but this trio has hardly ever been conventional. One look at their set-up shows that to be true. There are few bands who have been as successful in the indie rock scene who have a female singer and aren't associated with the riot grrl movement. Nevertheless, Long Knives Drawn finds the band continuing where A Better Version Of Me left off. Compared to early releases, Kyle Fischer's vocals are non-existent; rather, bassist Caithlin de Marrais continues to expand upon her role as the true frontwoman in the band. In many ways, the vocals from de Marrais carry the weight of the album, as they are seemingly the highest element in the mix. Her vocals seem stronger, more confident, and her range better than on any previous recording the band has done. They can be sweet and delicate as on the closer, "Situation: Relation," or grand and saucy as heard on "Ears Ring." Nevertheless, the music isn't without its fair share of attention-grabbers, either. William Kuehn's limbs were surely all over the place in the recording of the album as he shows his extent as a drummer to be quite amazing. De Marrais' bass work is quite proficient, and her skill at the low-end has become more impressive with the release of each album, this one being no exception. Fischer is normally a quite capable guitarist whose antics and energy have been noticed for some time by fans at live shows. However, it seems here that his guitar work is merely meant to tread water, biding time for some big explosion that never seems to come. On that note, it's also worth mentioning that the mix seems uneven, as vocals, bass, and cymbals, are up higher than the snare or guitar. It's not uncomfortable to hear by any means, but it is noticeable if one listens for it. Nevertheless, it's a minor point on an otherwise solid album. Long Knives Drawn isn't as dynamic as Past Worn Searching, nor as bubbly as Look Now Look Again, but it's capable of reaching a larger audience. In other words, it shows a band that has matured and is creating viable pop music while still retaining indie credibility. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

It is going to be interesting to watch the emo kids grow up in the years to come, to see what directions they head and what happens to all that youthful angst. Already Saves the Day and Hey Mercedes have made decent adult pop/rock albums with grown-up soul and intelligence. Decibully trumps them both with its debut record, City of Festivals. Decibully has ties to emo through the Promise Ring, post-rock through Pele, and noise pop through Camden. Despite this, they don't really sound like they belong anywhere. Maybe they need their own style. How about post-emo chamber pop with some country overtones? They have a rich, fully orchestrated sound that is warm and cozy. It wraps around you like a blanket, William Seidel's intimate vocals hovering nearby like an old friend. Every song is packed with instruments; vintage synths, harmonica, electric piano, lap steel, horns, banjo, cello, and all kinds of guitars are expertly woven into the mix. Vocal harmonies are also all over the record, culminating in "Uncle Sam's Yard," which features a large vocal choir and ends up sounding like a down-home Polyphonic Spree. To go along with the fantastic sound of the record, the group came up with a batch of songs to match. "On the Way to Your Hotel," "Holy Angel Choir, " "We Belong on Rooftops," and the desolate and moving "Spiderbites" are songs that have power and emotional depth but don't rock in any conventional sense. The music is literate and heartfelt, just like emo but without the cringe-inducing sappiness and over-emoting, and if a band on Domino or Too Pure or Matador had songs this strong it might be in the process of being hailed as the next big thing. Hopefully, emo-phobes will give a Polyvinyl release the chance it deserves, because City of Festivals is a really strong record. Between this record and the Saturday Looks Good to Me and Mates of State albums, Polyvinyl is on its way to becoming one of the best U.S. indie labels. [The record was also issued on vinyl with the inclusion of the bonus track "Before the Streetlights."] © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Although entirely instrumental, Pele has something very much in common with many of the bands who use vocals: They're an act best watched live. Surprisingly, this Milwaukee trio is killer on-stage, finding the groove early on, making sure the audience gets into it, and then improvising the hell out of the set and having a blast the entire time. Whether it's drummer Jon Mueller's crazy antics -- such as licking the kick drum or toying with balloons -- or bassist Matt Tennessen or guitarist Chris Rosenau running around on-stage, Pele is certainly not an act to be missed. And yet, it is a tough transition for all exciting live bands to carry that same energy into a recording studio and have it come through on the speakers. At the very least, on Enemies (their second album for Polyvinyl), Pele reaches the same mark of energy and excitement set on their Polyvinyl debut, The Nudes. At best, they're furthering that live energy into new dynamics (incorporating Jon Minor's computer work on the album, for example) and more creativity. Enemies starts with an upbeat tune, "Crisis Win," that comes bursting from the start with handclaps and a steady beat. The guitar, still reminiscent of The Nudes as far as sound and tone is concerned, delicately rises into the mix and away Pele goes. The last two-plus minutes of this tune are no doubt an example of Minor's contribution, as there is a myriad of voices filtered into the sound, barely being held together and breaking up with the intonation of buzzing crossing the path of said voices. Irritating hardly describes it. Frankly, it starts Enemies off on the wrong track, but after this initial distraction Pele keeps on running at a nice clip. In some manner, they have taken this part-jazz, part-pop structure and made it reflective music -- perfect for an introspection on a mild winter day. Warm tones continue throughout the album from the guitar, the bass is raised in the mix (and it's needed, seeing as how it's such an important part of the act), and the drums drive the whole show. Computer sounds are thrown in for good measure; at the worst they are distracting and at the best they're mildly complimentary. Surprisingly, Pele finds room for a pop hook or two amongst all the improv and free jazz ("Safe Dolphin" being a good example). In that manner, they seemingly stick out from other instrumental acts. Hopefully, time will allow them to continue to expand, find better ways to interface the computer aspect, and create more albums filled with a beautiful mix of pop sensibilities combined with jazz ingenuity. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

While Pele has been dubbed post-rock by some circles of critics, Elephant (the band's third release) usurps no traditional rock song formats and doesn't embrace much more than only slight hints of modern ambient or experimental music, and frankly it would find a comfortable home in the jazz section of your local music retailer. Guitarist Chris Rosenau picks nimble, rolling riffs around which bassist Matt Tennessen and drummer Jon Mueller form a driving unit that ebbs and jumps with ease. In fact, it is Mueller's propulsive playing that makes Elephant more than just an ordinary noodle fest, providing kinetic energy and strident pacing with skittering, angular fills and layered beats. He has definitely studied his instrument, and it helps Pele's music make the leap from interesting to exceptional. Elephant offers just enough lo-fi sonic dust to seem punkish, but make no mistake, it is precisely played and elegantly constructed. But at some point, Rosenau runs out of ideas and to bridge the gap relies on repetition and force. With only seven songs barely topping out at 40 minutes total, perhaps an EP-length program would have been a better choice. [The 2003 reissue adds three bonus tracks recorded live in Japan during Pele's 2002 tour: "Safe Dolphin" and "Hospital Sports," both originally on Enemies, and "Visit Pumpy," originally found on Nudes. © John Duffy /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

The Red Hot Valentines get punchy on their debut, Summer Fling. It's jammed tight with Cars-like synth beats and crunchy guitar licks for a delectable mix of punk and pop. The Red Hots don't do anything drastically different from the infectious presentation of Weezer and Jimmy Eat World, but that's all right. The vocal threesome of guitarist Jeff Johnson, second guitar player Tobin Kirk, and bassist David Gerkin give the Red Hots an extra oomph in the band's overall sonic goodness. From "Fair Warning"'s starry-eyed rock fun to the sunkissed riffs of "Wait for Summer," the Red Hots go for a big, sugarcoated sound. "This Heart of Mine" is sweet with its self-deprecating tale of figuring yourself out without socially losing grip. Other candied pop standouts like "Christine" and the achy, Soul Asylum-like ballad "I Want To" showcase the band's influential favorites -- and they pull things off quite well. Summer Fling is a solid effort from the Red Hot Valentines and certainly a decent look at a band in progress. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

The Calling Off Today EP is a solid, rowdy first release from the Red Hot Valentines and a tasteful precursor to the band's studio full-length, Summer Fling. This little three-song set captures the Red Hot Valentines' attempt to craft their own garage rock sound but without the swagger, and it's a divine good time. It's catchy, cool, and quick, boasting similar appeal to Superdrag's catalog of work. Those who are fond of the Red Hot Valentines' debut album will find the Calling Off Today EP an added bonus to their record collections. It's also a nice addition for any fad-following music loyalist. © MacKenzie Wilson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

After having become known as "that one band with the vibraphone," Aloha continues to throw tons of other toys into the fray on their sophomore LP, including piano, synthesizers, and extra percussion. The ten songs on Sugar are somewhat of a new direction for the band. This is seen partially in the lack of the free jazz that so enveloped the last full-length, That's Your Fire. Much of Sugar contains a more '70s pop/rock feel, with a large, full range of instruments to back it up. With the use of the synths and piano and an unconventional approach to songwriting -- yet speaking to a primarily indie rock audience -- the approach may be hard for many to appreciate. Yet there's a flow to the album that makes it almost seem effortless and the end arrives too soon. While not a comfortable, relaxed listen, Sugar is by no means grating; rather, it takes a concentrated, sensitive ear to catch all that makes this a deeper album than the average slop too many listeners are inoculated with. Many bands seek to reinvent themselves with each release, and Aloha has certainly accomplished as much with Sugar. © Kurt Morris /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Aloha emphatically trumps their pair of mostly exquisite Polyvinyl EPs with an even more exciting debut full-length album that further blurs the distinction between prog rock, jazz, pop, and post-rock while extending the legacies of all of them. That's Your Fire is a wildly adventurous recording, full of vibrant experimentation and improvisatory chance taking that is consistently pulled off. Although the band delves into innumerable musical genres, there is no mistaking their identity, thanks in large part to the sensational musicianship of the four band members. Aloha's deep and dreamy basslines, complex drumming, and mystically sparkling rhythm guitar would have been enough to set them apart from similar-minded peers. But the ubiquitous presence of vibes, as well as Tony Cavallario's melodically flexible vocals, renders the music mantra-inducing, which in no way implies that the quartet is all otherworldliness and no edge. They jump from the ethereal (the delusory oases of "Liberty" and "Heading East") to the spasmodic (the angular, punk space-age bachelor pad Devo of "Last Night I Dreamt You Slept Beside Me") with ease, ricocheting from the hulking pop anthem "Ferocious Love" to the jazz-funk fusion of "A Hundred Stories" to free jazz. None of the songs follow verse-chorus-verse structure, and yet the album is a perfect example of daring songwriting that still retains an insatiable catchiness and sonic cohesion. Aloha have scaled back their excessive tendencies. The melodies are stronger and more fully fleshed out. The only quibble that can be leveled at the album is that its songs bleed into one another to the point that it takes numerous listens to separate them from one another. It is impossible to pin an Aloha song down because it veers off down so many paths, not just stylistically but melodically and texturally as well. Because of the band's virtuosic instrumental skills, the songs never spin out of control, and yet the intensity of the listening experience is so relentless that you can't help but wish they had allowed for a few moments to pause between songs. As it is, That's Your Fire is a gorgeous, impressionistic sound painting. It frequently surprises a listener with its almost story-like breadth, ebbing and flowing but always moving the narrative toward a conclusion. It may occasionally verge on aimlessness, but it is an ambitious work on both a conceptual and musical level. Once the band figures out how to harness the complex soundscapes they formulate, they are capable of brilliant albums. In the meantime, Aloha has made a glorious noise that is endlessly intriguing and very often inspired. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Nestled inside any other genre, Rainer Maria's caterwauling duets would probably be hung by their britches -- but this is American emocore, which necessitates musicians caress while sounding like atonal Wire demos. A tricky business, to be sure, and it's not an envious occupation. Past Worn Searching repeatedly builds on the deception of traditional rows and loud-soft choruses, puncturing holes in transitions, never minding the inclusion of off-key belts and stories of Hepatitis A. This is mostly a neutered trick despite itself. The album never overcomes its usual trappings either in the album's own ingredients -- one can see the volume jolts coming a mile away -- or the genre itself. In many ways, a beggar's version of the Tiny and Vanessa dynamics in Ultrasound. © Dean Carlson /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released February 5, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

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Alternative & Indie - Released September 21, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Mates of State are the husband-wife duo of Kori Gardner on keys of various types and Jason Hammel on drums and occasional keys as well. They both sing with innocent gusto, and their charming voices remind one of wonderful indie pop bands like Papas Fritas and Butterglory in the way they intertwine and twist with naïve fervor. They sound like real people singing about real things, and that is kind of exciting. And they don't use guitars of any kind. And you don't miss them either! Team Boo is the band's fullest sounding, most energy-filled record yet. The duo called in Jim Eno of Spoon and John Croslin, who has worked with Spoon also as well as Beulah and the Mates on their first disc, to produce. Together they have concocted a record that leaps out of the speakers with a feeling of manic joy and excitement. Songs like "Fluke," "Ha Ha," and "Gotta Get a Problem" dance with the energy of kids and reel with the flush of first love. Every now and then the record slows down the pace and deals with heavier issues like on the stately "Parachutes (Funeral Song)" or "An Experiment," but even these songs are blessed with killer hooks and Gardner's and Hammel's angelic vocals. Team Boo is a record that will make even the staunchest nonbelievers believe in the power of simply played, honest, and energetic pop music again. Listening to Mates of State will clear out any gloom that may be in your system in a flash and replace it with pure sunshine. © Tim Sendra /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released September 28, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Evoking Dick Cheney and Mark Twain in the title and artwork of your album screams high concept, and it's not like Joan of Arc hasn't shunned that kind of indulgence before. (It also elicits humorous notions of the fogyish Cheney settling down in his parlor to give a challenging experimental rock album a good, solid listen. Very Norman Rockwell, no?) But Tim Kinsella and friends have already done the concept angle -- done it to death, as the insular spiky changing rooms of The Gap proved. So where does that leave Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain? Well, it's an album in love with distinct verbosity, for one. Every song title is an artful arrangement in both text and sound -- "Queasy Lynn," "I Trust a Litter of Kittens Still Keeps the Colosseum." And unlike what passes for concept albums these days (we're looking at you, Coheed & Cambria), Kinsella, Sam Zurick, Nate Kinsella, Bobby Burg, and their host of horn- and keys-playing, voice-lending pals have designed this latest Joan missive as a freestanding torso refreshingly free of meddling tendrils. The title track makes simple voice repetition and processed power-drill noises scarier than watching The Shining's climax on repeat. "Half-Deaf Girl Named Echo" assembles a melody from random hand percussion and the sighs of a cello before tense guitar squiggles start reminding of Chicago's mid-'90s post-rock zenith. A kick drum drops, the guitar shifts to an urgent two-note skip, and all of a sudden the song's a surging epic. "80's Dance Parties Most of All" is an extended PSA that outs cultural items like Friendster, sports, Internet porn, and Galileo as conspiracies; "Apocalypse Politics" features an absolutely beautiful acoustic figure completely at odds with its doomsday-on-Tivo lyrics; and "White and Wrong" is a family crisis in two acts, playing out over detached rhythms and claustrophobic Casios. Joan of Arc does seem to think that the sky has already fallen, and its shrapnel is making our relationships bleed with absurdity. But though their words suggest such weighty topics, the album remains sonically airy. It might get tense, but it's never dense. Joan of Arc, Dick Cheney, Mark Twain has its share of screwy, push-button noise -- "'Still' from Miss Kate's Texture Dictionary" is all squelch, no action. But these passages seem to emphasize the band's cynical cultural view. Only noise will save us, and all of that. The record ends with "The Cash In and Price," which returns to the title track's overlapped voices motif. Aside to Joan of Arc: props to pitting the Nation of Ulysses against those evil-doing multinationals. The hickey underworld lives! © Johnny Loftus /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

The fourth album by this Milwaukee trio is a gorgeous mixture of spontaneous elements, combining experimentation and improvisation with already composed melodies much like their previous Elephant. As such, it is difficult to place Pele's music in any particular category, and that is both a blessing and a curse. The eight tracks of complex and melancholy instrumental interplay are difficult to get a hand around, precisely because they vibrate so dynamically, but also because they avoid conventional description. Perhaps the most instantly recognizable feature is Chris Rosenau's abstract guitar doodles that gingerly set down the mostly downcast brushstrokes on the surface of songs; but the most interesting and virtuosic ingredient is Matt Tennessen's majestic (both in depth of sound and in technical facility) bass playing, which holds a pulse even while he is freely roaming up and down the fretboard. More than rock or pop, Pele play lo-fi instrumental jazz, a sound that could conceivably come from a small jazz-like setting or from a cozy living room or basement (which is exactly where it was recorded). Pele avoids the unfortunate post-rock tendency of turning rock, jazz, and electronic music into an indecipherable and indistinct soup by avoiding electronics and nearly eschewing rock (outside of some moments of conventional beat-keeping), while turning the rhythmic interplay into the reason for and reward of the music. Of all the songs, "Gugi" is the only one that truly sticks out, with its hurried, frenetic pace and wistful melody. But even if most of the songs aren't (and perhaps weren't meant to be) sonically distinct enough to stand out on their own, The Nudes retains a breathtaking, painterly beauty. It is an album that bypasses the quick fix for the big picture. It captures a moment rather than an implicit meaning, a movement rather than a pose. © Stanton Swihart /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records

Bursting with euphoric energy, My Solo Project is a tremendous debut full-length from San Francisco's Mates of State. With organ, drums, and belted-out boy-girl harmonies, the Mates of State crank out a giant, joyous pop sound that needs no overdubbing or ornamentation to convey its exuberance. The keys-fronted lineup begs comparison to bands like Ben Folds Five and Quasi, but the Mates of State have built a freshness all their own, rejuvenating indie pop with unbelievable vigor. Vocalist/organist Kori Gardner has a honey-sweet voice that shifts easily from languorous to explosive within single songs, deftly intertwining with drummer/vocalist Jason Hammel's punctuated yell-singing. The band's bouncy live sound excels on songs "La'hov" and "Everyone Needs an Editor," while songs like "Nice Things That Look Good" and "Ride Again" prove a solid ability to slow down and noodle. The momentum of My Solo Project is further sustained by the varied tempos and rhythms -- just a little loose around the edges -- that build from one to the next in a way that rigid rock beats so often miss. The simple, repetitive lyrics take on a poetic, jazzy quality, as one singer maintains the chorus line while the other solos with words -- reminiscent of fellow West Coast indie rock duo the Halo Benders. With this all-round impressive debut of passionate, accessible pop/rock, the Mates of State breath fresh excitement into the indie scene in a big way. © Michelle Cross /TiVo
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Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 2004 | Polyvinyl Records