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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Fat Possum
Josh Rouse

Rating: 9/10 ?

March 11, 2005
At some point during his career, people began throwing around the word "Alt-Country" when describing Josh Rouse. Perhaps this was justified on his earlier albums, but really now, he's been straight up Power Pop since 2003's 1972. Perhaps it's the influence of the city he's been leaving in for the past decade (Nashville obviously) finally catching up with him. Remember, people go to Nashville to become Country stars, the natives all end up starting Power Pop groups (i.e., The Shazam).

Nashville serves as sort of a goodbye letter to the famed city, Rouse recently made the move to Spain, and here finds his seemingly predestined fate to become a great pop songwriter becoming closer to becoming fully realized than ever before.

I've always felt that an album's first track needs to be the most accessible and definitely one of the better tracks on the record, first impressions you know, and "It's the Nighttime" fills that role perfectly. Moreover it's always hard to hate a song containing the lyric "We can go to your room/ I can try on your clothes" delivered in Rouse's sweet soft-spoken vocal tenure.

This album sounds beautiful in much the same way as R.E.M.'s massively acclaimed 1992 album, Automatic for the People. Like said album, Nashville is unabashedly unafraid with its heartfelt and straightforward lyricism, less surprising coming from Rouse than R.E.M. but still a valid statement. The mid-80's Britpop influence is easily identified on "Winter in the Happiness" and he dispatches obvious angst, both of the teen and lovelorn variety, on "Middle School Frown" and "My Love Has Gone."

Another great thing about this album is found in its brevity. Only 10 tracks with most of them falling around the 3:30 mark (the ideal length for Rouse's musical style and my preferred length for any song of any genre.) Some people like pretentious seven-minute art-rock opuses; my philosophy has always been "Generally speaking, unless you have a drum machine and Peter Hook on bass (or if your band name is Sigur Ros) it's best not to try it." Why settle for boring mediocrity when you trim four minutes and add a great hook to help make your songs actually listenable?

Maybe liking Josh Rouse isn't exactly hip, and I know the year is young, but I have it on good faith that this will be the somewhat-manic-depressive yet-dreamy in-a-heart-warming earnest-kind-of-way smart-pop album of the year. Seriously, if you like intelligent song writing with killer sing-along choruses, then you desperately need this album.

Reviewed by Tim Smith
LAS\' resident television expert.

See other reviews by Tim Smith



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