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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).

High School Mustache
Things That Were Blue (CD EP)

All right, I'll 'fess up. I DID actually have a mustache in high school. I would shave my chin and sideburns but kept the handlebar, not so much under the delusion that it was cooler, but because I was afraid of change. And as we all know any significant change in your physical appearance in high school meant instant death. It actually lasted up until halfway through my senior year when one day I took the plunge and just razored the little bugger off for good. And looking back at some of my teenage pics, it's like, thank Shmat I went and did it.

My hairy lip confession aside, maybe I'm glad that High School Mustache hasn't shaved off theirs. (Well, in the photo from the CD insert at least one of them has kept it... is that Charles?) Their Things That Were Blue EP is easily one of the better demos I've received in the mail so far. Songs like "The Value" and "Writing Postcards" which could stand alone as solid bare bones country-folk tunes, are spiced up with guitar swells on the first and lush piano and slide guitar in on the second. Overall it just seems as if HSM has the confidence to execute their songs in a manner that most other indie folk bands lack.

The laid back tempos and certain chord changes reminded me at times of one of my favorite bands, Elk City. This is especially true on "Wednesday in Humility"; you could probably insert this track right in the middle of Elk City's Status album without blinking an eye. I can also see the initial comparisons to the Radar Bros or perhaps Smog although HSM seems to be much more focused than Bill Callahan. On "Eighty Years" Charles Giorlando lets a little deadpan Jeff Tweedy creep quietly into his voice to great overall effect just before the band blasts off in the rousing closer "Bakers Valley".

What I like about HSM is that they get mileage out of lo-fi warmth without overemphasizing the fact that they may or may not be recording in their living rooms. The overall production quality seems to increase on the later songs, almost as if piece by piece the band was buying bits of recording gear. This is something I can totally relate to and in my opinion is a very honest reflection of how home recordings progress.

- review by BY (4.19.03)        

9 Parson Street
Brighton, MA 02135

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