I was in Madison, Wisconsin the first time I heard Nirvana on the radio. It was an underground or college station, don't remember which, just remember the music. I've had a fondness for Mad-City music for some time; it's like the Midwest version of Austin, Texas. Anyway, out of Madison come Uncle Eddie. The name doesn't really say what the music is like, so I expected a little more of the roots sound that one hears in the Spanic Boys, another Wisconsin band. No way. Uncle Eddie are closer to Living Color, with exceptional musicianship, good song structures, and well-crafted and -recorded mini-rock operas. Whew, this is some serious music. No humor here, just brooding rock. Man, these guys are on one very heavy trip. There isn't a picture in the CD, but if there were you could bet these guys wouldn't be wearing funky, silly clothes and smiling -- lots of black clothing and frowns.
These songs are well put together and show a great deal of pretty sophisticated song structures. It's not overly weighty, though, a hard trick and a testament to the talent of these guys. The only complaint I had was with the lyrical content, which seemed a bit self-conscious and self-important to me. It's very hard to write this kind of serious brooding rock and not get the lyrical stuff all gooed up with that attitude (I wonder, also, what a happy song would sound like from these guys...). This is a pretty good CD and I'd recommend it for any one wanting to hear what this style of music should sound like. Uncle Eddie does an excellent job of demonstrating their considerable musical talents while using restraint and not stuffing it down our throats with over-extended leads and too many bridges and changes. Rock goes from the garage to the high-tech neo-modern apartment. (BW)
(Crustacean Records -- P.O. Box 370156, Milwaukee, WI. 53237; firstname.lastname@example.org; http://www.crustaceanrecords.com/; Uncle Eddie -- http://www.uncle-eddie.com/)
The Faithful Anchor
Instrumental indie-rock, obviously enamored with the soaring melodic lines of early Tortoise work. It moves nicely and pleasantly enough, like sailing in calm waters; in the right mood, this record is really nice background music to have going, and could be ideal soundtrack material for a movie. In the wrong mood, however, its lineage seems a little too frustratingly apparent, and I find myself wishing for something more challenging, more abrasive, less in debt to its forebears. Depending on which mood you are more apt to find yourself in, you will either find this CD a welcome addition or wholly gratuitous. (DD)
(Lovesick Recordings -- 611 E. Grand River Ave., East Lansing, MI. 48823; email@example.com; http://www.lovesickrecordings.com/; Unwed Sailor -- http://www.unwedsailor.net/)
For my money, the US Maple experiment is one of the most interesting going in music today. It's sort of like -- and I mean this in the best possible way -- watching an infant learn to speak, only they're developing an entirely new language and you don't know what's coming next, but the more you hear of it the more it makes sense. Where their last record, Talker, seemed almost devoid of any traditional parseable rock content (y'know, melody, consistent rhythm, etc.), this one starts to add some of those elements back in, but in a manner entirely in keeping with the language of Talker. Put differently: there's parts of this you can sing along to, whereas you (or at least I) couldn't with Talker. If it sounds like I'm fumbling around, its because the development of a new musical language requires the development of an associated critical language to truly discuss it, and nobody has come up with words that explain US Maple. So, instead, I leave you with one of those glittering generalities: essential listening for anyone interested in the creative advancement of music. (DD)
(Drag City Records -- P.O. Box 476867, Chicago, IL. 60647; http://www.dragcity.com/; US Maple -- http://www.southern.com/southern/band/USMAP/)