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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).

And Academy
Her and Hurts, Hearts (Cassette Tape)

The Shmat has already lost track of the standings for the "walkman" battle that he's been having, but he thinks at last count it was Shmat Review Success: 3 and Walkman Eating Tape: 1. Well, add another feather to the Shmat's cap for he's conquered the review for yet another tape release without mishap. In addition, he's found out a little trick... hey, he can listen to the tape in the Peoples' car! Well, with the 100 degree heat it makes it hard for him to sit in the car during the day for extended periods of time but it helps stave off the rigors off his vicious tape-hungry little walkman.

Anyway, the Shmat would like to introduce And Academy's Her and Hurts, Hearts tape by saying that this is quite a brainy, intricate mix of sounds. And Academy is definitely in the thinking cap camp, eschewing conventional verse chorus verse pop for a blend of Sea and Cake and Tortoise type musical constructions. But this is not math or prog rock in the pure sense, although check out the intellectual titles of some of these songs: "Red Wine Walls and Silk", "Zero Plus Zero Plus Zero", "I Heart Break Violins". In fact, these seemingly random titles are a true reflection of the state of the music contained herein. The songs aren't broken up piecemeal into completely unrelated fragments, but neither are they set forth in simple progressions. Like true poetry, the band balances random acts of melody, time changes, and metaphorical sound effects with complicated chord meter and verse. Add to this seductively spacey undertones that would make Mogwai blush, and the Shmat thinks there is quite a lot to investigate in this album.

The singer reminds the Shmat a little bit of Modest Mouse, maybe Sam Prekop. Actually, for awhile it was strangely reminding him of Peter Garrett, the ex-singer from Midnight Oil. The songs are sometimes thoughtfully pastoral, with acoustic guitar and synth pads, and at other times primitively cerebral, following the jam-till-it-blossoms path of bands like Built to Spill. And Academy has a firm grasp on the Chicagoan indie instrumental major 7th noodling type sound, with it's understated melody, rambling bass lines, and psuedo jazz-like interpretive approach. But, it's not as if they are copping the sound entirely and there is some very original and interesting musical work going on here. Still, fans of those types of bands will probably love this release. The Shmat needs to give some sort of frame of reference for the potential fans, you know.

In general, this multifaceted work is a worthy conundrum for musical knowledge seekers, but pop traditionalists may have difficulty traversing its shifting wires of sound. For those willing to rumble, you can pick up a copy from Best Kept Secret in Italy.

- review by SHMAT (8.11.03)        

Best Kept Secret
c/o Alessandro Crestani
Via Biron di Sotto, 101
36100 Vicenza, Italy

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