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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).

School For The Dead
The New You (CD)

School For The Dead sound anything but "dead". Ah, a horrible lead in sentence. But so true. Their bouncy and happy pop songs bring a smile to your face and immediately made me recall Fountains of Wayne. I should have known because according to their bio they've shared the stage with Fountains of Wayne after all, and Chris Collingwood is a fan of theirs. Songs "like Photobooth Curtain" certainly have that Radiation Vibe and lead singer Henning Ohlenbusch has the voice to back it up.

Their musical strength is in melody driven songs infused with a campiness that borders on They Might Be Giants, but thankfully never quite teeters into Triangle Man territory. Besides pop, they venture into other genres like on the slight folk inflections of "Can't Believe How Fast" and sweet Beck (a la Sea Change) ballads like "Candy Cane". I didn't like the ska-sounding "Thug" though; it was much too obviously over the top. "The Wichita Train Whistle Sings" comes across as a funny sort of hoedown. Most of this stuff is pretty radio-friendly and on that note, I recently heard a morning radio show featuring Robyn Hitchcock singing along to some wacky piano playing. I think this CD could sit well right beside some of Hitchcock's work. Overall, this is a pretty strong collection of quirky songs that I'd definitely recommend.

- review by SHORTY (3.22.05)        

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