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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).

American Analog Set
Promise of Love (CD)

Although I purchased this CD months ago when it came out, the review of it has been kicking around in my head for awhile but just has never come out onto paper. Well, here you go then. American Analog Set (that's Amanset for those in the know) presents 8 tracks of well constructed and smart post rock tunes for the perpetually somnambulent. Never known for jarring listeners over their near 10 year history, Amanset cultivates its crop of followers carefully with brooding melodies that jell perfectly with droning keyboards and guitar lines.

I actually had seen them at the Knitting Factory in L.A. where they headlined with Timonium awhile back and they were great. Crisp, syncopated drumming and tasteful farfisa and guitar playing made for a pretty amazing set. The guys have a relaxed atmosphere on stage, like a bunch of college graduate students getting together for a mellow drone session instead of playing a crowded show. Andrew Kenny is personable but not extremely chatty, the perfect blend of a band leader. They played nearly the entire new album straight through, and in fact for their curtain call Andrew somewhat sheepishly said that they had run out of songs to play from the new album, and was there any songs from older albums that everyone wanted to hear? One of the crowd's favorite members was definitely the xylophone and maraca shaking guy, but i am really embarrassed to say I don't know his name. But his intensity on stage (well, have you ever been at a show where someone in the audience yells out "Yeah! XYLOPHONE!") really made the performance special.

Now to their new album. Many critics of the band have noted the lack of diversity between all their releases. But that doesn't really bother me though, and it's somewhat comforting to be able to put on a record from a band you like and get consistently good music. Now, if it was bad music that they insisted on revisiting that would be a different story. But the great blend of drony guitars and snappy drum hits still carries the same relevance with this release. They are perhaps a band who are not afraid of NOT changing.

The opening track "Continuous Hit Music" contains one of the longer intros in D that I've ever heard lately (and prompted more than one friend to remark, "is that the entire song"?). But continuous hit music it is, with track after track of calm and lush indie pop. Beautiful vibes on "Come Home Baby Julie, Come Home", and the weighty "You Own Me" swells nicely like a distortion-less Painful era Yo La Tengo song. The jumpier title track "Promise of Love" reveals a snare on every beat and a humming organ holding things together. The outro to "Modern Drummer" features a wispy reprise of the title track with just Andrew and an acoustic guitar playing softly in the background.

The packaging for this album is also very unique... only by holding the insert up at the correct angle in direct light are you able to see the watermark - like impression on front and back of a "returned to sender" envelope addressed to the band. A very nice touch.

Now on Tiger Style Records, the band has shown depth without changing their overall mellow pop formula. Adventurous folks may be a little disappointed of this continuous lack of shakeup but I couldn't help but like their new album. It goes well on the shelf with the other 3 albums I have from them.

- review by BY (11.19.03)        

Tiger Style Records
401 Broadway, 26th Floor
New York City, NY 10013

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