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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).

The Lil' Hospital
I Wanna Be Well (CD)

There's something right away about a label called "Best Friends Records" that makes you want to like their releases; I don't know, it just seems FRIENDLY. But there was no need to pretend on their latest release of The Lil' Hospital's I Wanna Be Well which seems to have just about everything going for it indiepop-wise. From the nice cardboard mailer with charming handdrawn pencil art on the cover, to the unpretentious, bouncy style of lo-fi kid pop contained within, this disc made me a very happy camper from day one of listening to it.

The opener, "Busy Bee" is sort of similar to something Franklin Bruno might do and the next song, "Summer Reading", reminded me somewhat of The Hangups with it's major 6ths and 7ths and semi power popish chorus. "Kampus & Katy" has a trumpet line (played by the ubiquitous Raoul De La Cruz) that is one part Aislers Set and one part marching band. I heard that Kevin of The Lil' Hospital, who lives in Virginia, would actually send the unfinished tracks over to Riverside, CA where Raoul would record the trumpet on his four-track. Hooray for trans-continental collaborations! This is the kind of thing that really helps along the spirit of indie music.

Most of the drums on the album in fact seem to be a drum machine (although the liner notes give credits to Niko Tombras for drums) which probably helps speeds along the development of the music. I've always found that when laying down a scratch drum machine track as a click and then playing instruments over it, it often turns out that the original scratch drum machine fits in better. Proving once again, if it ain't broke don't figgle with it! I liked the My Sharona type of rocking out on "Pretty Kissin'" and "Don't Cry No Tears" is a finely atonal wordless gem. "Hugless" is shambling good garage music and the last track on the album, "There Could Be Girlfriend", rings out goofily true with happy-sad little bells and twinkling guitars. Many of the songs actually seem to have a kinship with The State Of Samuel in their production and overall approach. Neither is earthshatteringly avant garde, but I think both bands are pretty clever in the selection and borrowing of musical ideas and structures. This keeps them a bit ahead of the rest of the indie pop 4 tracker class.

With nary a bum track on the album, you're not going to be displeased with this CD by The Lil' Hospital if you like good and honest indie pop.

- review by BY (12.6.03)        

Best Friends Records
P.O. Box 48214
Denver, CO 80204

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