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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
The 2nd
Burn Burn Burn Records

Rating: 5.5/10 ?

April 28, 2005
I have seen Hater's albums when digging through dusty CD shelves at my local record shop, knowing that the bassist from Sound Garden, Ben Shepherd, was part of this post-grunge cast of delinquent drifters - the same band with footing in other semi-famous acts like Mark Lanegan Band, Monster Magnet and even REM - but I never knew what was contained within them. My lack of Hater Education rendered me ignorant; my suspicion was one of washed up grungers, but instead I was surprised by the band's sometimes dirty, sometimes bluesy art-punk that recalls early Mudhoney and the new garage revival.

Hater's new album, The 2nd, is an extremely fuzzy disc that was recorded as a series of demos while Sound Garden was in pre-production back in 1995, produced by Stuart Hallerman (Death Cab for Cutie). The 2nd shows Hater's genuine connected force, combining an offbeat musical history with a rather loud report, utilizing sonic guitar textures and drowned out, unidentifiable lyrical outpour.

Shepard's uncompromising sound has more weight in the seminal underground on this project than the radio-ready sound he's better known for, which effectively compensates for his lack of indie cred.

While most of the music is easily recognizable from early 90s fuzz boxed bands, much in the style to Sonic Youth circa Dirty, The 2nd offers an admirable amount of low-pressure rock tunes that flow rather smoothly and at times safely, while its casual ebb is rooted in a rather unapologetic way.

Some of the more laid back tunes, like the album opener, "Try", as well as "Whatsever", and "Walk Alone," reveal a gradual exploratory movement that has no particular destination. The songs proceed in an irregular clarity that wander aimlessly thorough a repetitive verse chorus verse approach.

A struggle is born between bland indie rock and an aural pleasure that neither inspires or annoys; there are strives to break new ground. Shepherd has said Hater was meant to be a never-ending recoding project: "Absent of any goals, just working on songs as they come". Unfortunately these three songs, among others, have that very feeling of slow-moving idleness formed out of boredom.

It's not until "Between Two Fires" that we reach a more definable punk rock super-charged, fuzzed-out structure that utilizes an urgent progression and captures the raw ingenuity that Shepherd seems to be aiming for. Although no where near groundbreaking, the song, much like "Downpour at Mt. Angel", captures a raw Buzzcock-like guitar cane-beating that actually feels good.

I am sure Ben Shepherd will offer no apologies for pouring his soul onto a CD; he shouldn't. The problem lies in his visions, which aren't clear-cut, feeling like a down time project from his day job as bass player for Sound Garden. While The 2nd isn't a bad record, it lacks a superlative vision and fails to hit the mark as an intuitive, psychedelic studio experiment free from any outside restraints.

Reviewed by Mark Taylor
A senior LAS staff writer, Mark Taylor is a 29 year old father of a 5 year old son and husband to a wife of 6 years, living the simple life in a small suburb of Charlotte, NC.

See other reviews by Mark Taylor



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