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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).

Mike Verna
Untitled (CD-R Demo)

A nice big picture of a honest to goodness shmat on the front cover of this CD-R demo by Mike Verna gave the Shmat reason enough to pick it up and pop it in his CD player. For those of you who think that by putting pictures of fun shmats on your CDs you are somehow increasing your chances of receiving a review... well, you are! Note, the Shmat doesn't guarantee a GOOD review, just that it'll attract his attention. Shmats stick together after all...

The first track on this album, "New Love", is built around the four trackian lo-fi goodness of smeared out drum sounds, lazy vocals and meandering bass. Mike Verna sounds like a combination of Pavement and Folk Implosion sometimes, and his vocals sometimes kinda remind the Shmat of Dino Jr. front man J. Mascis. The Shmat really enjoyed the weird vibes solo in this song. "Kama Sutra" is less standard than the opener to say the least, featuring creepy vocals a la Tom Waits or Tindersticks, and chord structures and shaker sounds that seem taken out of Scenic's Acquatica album. There's a bit of an almost southwestern carnival feel to this song.

"Crack Whore" gets even weirder than that. Shmat thinks it's a good idea Verna put a more accesible song first because this particular one is kind of like the Palace Brothers doing rap if they all had lung cancer and problems keeping their tongues inside their mouths. Very strange farfisa chords hover in the background. There's little parts on this song where the vocals consists of someone sucking air through their teeth which makes it sound like they're slurping up a big raw beef pie through a straw. "Shape of the Stinger" brings us back into a more standard pop treatment. This is a great song, like a wacky Flaming Lips tune.

Mike Verna can certainly write songs but in each and every one of his works there is something strange going on, be it in the vocals, melodies, or choice of instruments. This is somewhat unnerving at times and will drive away some people after the second track, but this unpredictable nature actually helped to keep Shmat listening till the end of the CD.

- review by SHMAT (10.13.03)        

Mike Verna

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