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Shmat's Reviews
For more reviews, please visit Palebear which is where all future Shmat reviews will appear (as of March 2006).

Jesse Thomas
Excelsior Effort (CD)

Look. I try to be impartial when it comes to CD cover and booklet design. Should be separate from the music, right? But so often, the CD-Rs we get are the visual equivalent of those shirts. You know. The ones that say, "Grandma went to Puerto Vallarta and all I got was this lousy T-shirt". I got one CD-R the other day wrapped in a dirty NAPKIN. For crying out loud. So, I can't help it. Keep Recordings makes that extra effort to make things special for their limited CD-R line. The high quality designs are all spectacularly inventive and fun. Starts you off on the right foot, ya know?

So back to the music. This is Jesse Thomas's Excelsior Effort CD. In general, not as immediately arresting songcraft-wise as some of the other Keep artists. But very, very inventive. Tends toward the electronic at times. Only 8 songs here for a total of a little over 20 minutes of airtime. The first two tracks, "From The Top Of The Awesome" and "Free 'Zines", are instrumental splatterings of strange beats and alien sounding keyboards. Music for outerspace travellers perhaps. Like protracted studies in Attention Deficit Disorder, the two pieces caper around through various indie styles, with a heavy hand on the metronome slider.

The first vocals appear on the third track, "Some Other Time", which is very reminiscient of older Folk Implosion. Half mumbled, monotonic phrases wangle their way around drum machine beats. I was rather taken by "Speak From Shattered Faces" which merges the bassline from the Beatles' "Taxman" with the irreverence of The Fall. "Rain On My Parade" is a bluesy sort of drudge and "Semi Permanent" is Beat Happening meets Badly Drawn Boy. The latter song contains those same slightly out-of-tune vocals that are somewhat thankfully minimal on the album. No slam against the wiggly pipes, of course. But I think it was wise to keep them out of the limelight most of the time. I also wasn't too much into that fat, northwestern-grunge guitar in "Knonopin Almighty". Eek. I could probably could do without that one. "Pink Umbrella" continues where "Rain On My Parade" left off, but is even slower and just as moody. Kinda muzaky at times. In general, I'd like to hear more song-things as opposed to inventive noises which the album already has in spades. But this is quite an auditory experience for adventurous listeners.

- review by SHORTY (4.16.04)        

Keep Recordings
PO Box 18972
Tucson, AZ 85731

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