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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
Love and Africa, Love and Academy (CD)

This combination platter of non-traditional Wichita, Kansasian heavy noodling on the austere looking Japanese label "Track+S" makes for a heady broth of music. The Shmat last came across And Academy through their "Her and Hurts, Hearts" tape release which he reviewed some months ago. Ever the punsters, And Academy regroup here to present the Love and Africa, Love and Academy CD.

From his earlier review, this quote from the Shmat still holds especially true: "Like true poetry, the band balances random acts of melody, time changes, and metaphorical sound effects with complicated chord meter and verse." Just when you think one of their songs is just emo all over again, And Academy throws in that strange time signature or breakdown beat or random instrumental musing that keeps your interest piqued. Songs like "Now That You're Colorful" are more colorful than not. "Cutting Sparkles" feels exactly like it sounds, some sort of shifting and whimsical ride through lights from a merry-go-round flashing semi-epileptically at periodic intervals. It's very mysteriously neat; sometimes the Shmat thinks he gets a glimpse of the overall intent in the corner of his eyes but then it flits out of view as fast as it appeared.

At times recalling a more experimental and off kilter Death Cab for Cutie in overall feel, this music is a good balance of poise, punch, and experimentation. The overall energy is well distributed throughout the songs with lots of room for dynamic moments. The Shmat had not gotten a chance to pay full attention to the lyrics previously, but examining them now he finds they are not at all prosaic and often craftily constructed. Something's always afoot in the lyrics: "I'm like a light/So seamlessly bright/I have to lose until I see it through" and "Set winter/Spring back/Feel in time". But his favorite pun comes near the end of the Joan of Arc - like swirling maelstrom "Transitional - 40 People Holding Hands". Witness this gem: "Oh dear Ms. Spears. Dry away your mouseketears". Can the Shmat get an oh yeah!

This release again finds the band swimming upstream against the mainstream. And while this album seems somewhat similar in feel to the earlier one the Shmat reviewed, make no mistake: this is no formulaic simulacrum of an indie rock band. This is the real deal.

- review by SHMAT (12.4.03)        


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