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Music Reviews

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Eric Gaffney
Uncharted Waters

Rating: 7/10 ?

January 8, 2007
Eric Gaffney is best known as one of the founding members of that quintessential lo-fi band of the '90s, Sebadoh. Uncharted Waters, Gaffney's first release since 2005's Cosmic Chicken and Egg, arrives in the slipstream of the recent Domino reissue of Sebadoh III.

The material on the album spans a period of ten years and is a hefty 27 tracks long. Granted, ten years is a long time and a significant body of work might well be amassed in that period, but was it really wise to include what looks like everything but the kitchen sink. Surely somebody at Handmade could have given this album a judicious pruning. Or perhaps love is indeed blind.

The instrumental interludes, for instance, could easily have been either trimmed or removed completely, leaving behind instead a much stronger showcase of Gaffney's undoubted talent and idiosyncratic songwriting abilities. Excellent tracks such as "Cold Weather," "Shark Attack" and "Too Bad Luck" - three which highlight Gaffney's angular guitar style, off-beat drumming and obtuse lyrics - are sadly lost somewhat amongst the sheer quantity of material. A compact disc has the capacity for eighty minutes of playing time, but that doesn't necessarily mean they all have to be used.

Wading through the rest of the album, it is very much Gaffney in familiar lo-fi, experimental territory. In that respect, the album title Uncharted Waters is something of a misnomer, as there is little here that can be regarded as Gaffney 'leaving home' with nothing more than a blank piece of paper on which to draw out a map of his journey. That said, fans of early Sebadoh, where Gaffney's Hyde was the perfect foil to Barlow's Jekyll, will no doubt find much to admire in this collection, and there are indeed a number of lo-fi gems here. In order to find them, be prepared for what will feel like a marathon listening session.

Reviewed by Mark Thompson

See other reviews by Mark Thompson



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