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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).

They Walk In Line
All Mine (CD EP)

I've heard that They Walk In Line puts on a tremendous live show, but every time I've tried to catch them locally I've been stymied by one thing or another. Anyhow, I am happy to report that their latest CD EP, All Mine sounds pretty tremendous in its own right. Shmat nearly stole this one away from me to review since it had that photo of a big black and white grumbly kitty on the front that caught his eye, but I got to it first. You snooze, you lose, Shmat. Hehe.

The 6 songs on this EP (5 really, since the 2nd "Departure" song is a radio edit) are a great vehicle for presenting a neurock sound that some may say have been beaten into the ground by erstwhile pretenders to the Interpol/White Stripes throne. Somehow and in some interesting way, the boys sidestep the retro copycat generalizations. I can't put my finger on how they do it, but they do it. Shades of the chugginess and chutzpah of Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and the Dandy Warhols co-exist well with long stretches of gorgeous feedback galore in the manner of MBV and the Swirlies. And godamn if Michael Romero's voice doesn't sell this stuff well. He's like a wired mixture of Bono, Thurston Moore and Greg Dulli. That is not to say that the rest of the musicians aren't competent. Niaz kinda reminds me of Dave Grohl in the way he hits the drums hard but accurately and Paul Bayze (bass) and Kevin Kolpien (guitars) are no slackers either on their respective instruments. They are pretty adept at starting out tight and compact and then exploding into a furious storm when the going gets good.

"All Mine" beefs up a borrowed bit of Echo and the Bunnymen and links it to the starshower splendour of bands like Sonic Youth. "Paramedic" contains all the slamming energy of old Superchunk and Dino Jr. with its airplane landing type of guitars. In the loud parts on this song, Michael definitely sounds like gravelly Greg Dulli. On "Departure", initial monolithic chord dronings give way to a bevy of squealing axes near the time change in the middle of the song. "439 Friendly", which is a live track from a show they played on KXLU, hints at the volumnious dynamic energy available for consumption. This one starts off sounding strangely like Red House Painters or maybe even Idaho, with it's loping San Francisco fog gait. Then it just takes off into the stratosphere. Make no mistake: these guys can play earsplittingly loud. I can just imagine the poor mics and compressors working overtime as they get slammed with guitar feedback.

"Vicomix" is a little more atmospherically reserved, with skronking sound effects laid over one or two simple droning chords. Less rock and a bit more tweaky experimentation... I wonder if this is a direction they will take in the future, the GSYBE / Spiritualized route? In any case, for now I likes what I hears from these guys.

- review by BY (1.5.04)        

They Walk In Line

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