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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
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Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
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No Age - Everything in Between
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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
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Fat Possum
Bridge and Tunnel Club
Songs for Carpetbaggers Come and Gone

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
There is nothing to The Bridge and Tunnel Club. From reading the liner notes, we see Songs for Carpetbaggers Come and Gone was recorded on a computer, a four-track cassette recorder and hand-held cassette recorder. The Bridge and Tunnel Club were obviously going for simplicity, for that "super-raw," homemade type of music. The Bridge and Tunnel Club have surely made a very homemade-sounding album, but in this case, that means nothing. There's homemade, and then there's just bad. I don't mean to trash them. I'm trying desperately to restrain myself, but the music was absolutely torturous to listen to. The first time I listened to Songs for Carpetbaggers Come and Gone, I figured the opening song was one of those jocular songs, the really awful ones bands sometimes put in as an introduction before going on to the good stuff. Then the second song came. It was different, but still awful. I figured members of The Bridge and Tunnel Club were playing a hilarious joke on me and skipped forward. No band could seriously try to sell an album that consists of this kind of stuff by itself. The good tracks, I was sure, were on their way. By the fourth song, however, I knew the band was not going to get any better as the album wore on. The fifth song, the craftily titled "Thanksgiving Song," continues the pattern. The awful harmonies, random fork-against-goblet clanging noises, drums, keyboards, bass and guitars, all seem to fight for the spotlight. It reminds me of a junior high school musical where the two leads compete for attention with not only each other, but with the piano playing thirteen year old and the extras singing the chorus, each individual wanting their mom to hear him or her through the crowd. The clanging and competing calms as it drifts into "Arizona Rock Products Association," a song I would have thought the be the most boring in the history in the world if it had not been for "Fortune Cookie," the next song. The Bridge and Tunnel Club think they can put a girl who can't sing and a guy who tries too hard to be Ira Kaplan with some guitar to make a decent song. They can't. The band changes pace for the next track, however, the ridiculously stupid "Urinal," a song about songs men sing at urinals, slurred drunkenly by three men and a women who seemingly find it hilarious to sing a stupid song in Irish-bar-song type way. I could go on about "Song for Carpetbaggers Come and Gone" and "Radio Reception Area," but I don't think there is any need to trash a band more than is necessary to get my point across.

After being disgusted musically by the album, I decided to search for something good about the band. I knew individual talent or artwork would not be logical choices, so I focused on lyrics. I read the lyrics a couple of times, but I wasn't impressed. I decided then to read the lyrics along to the music. Jesus. I don't understand how a band could write anything so generic. Every song has to do with a failed relationship or getting drunk, which is fine if you are going to offer some insight into it, a non-cliché explanation of your emotions. A non-cliché anything. If not that, maybe at least make the lyrics well written. They couldn't do it, though. Songs for Carpetbaggers Come and Gone is full of references to generic topics poorly said, not to mention sung or played. For example, following Marya Sea Kaminski singing a verse about how first kisses "blow up your consciousness," she goes on to say "And I feel so fucking crazy tonight So fucking in love again another time" (from "Pet Names"). A few songs later she describes how "There are things you regret, things you run away from Disappointments in life you think you'll never overcome And keep telling yourself that nothing here has changed" (from "Arizona"). Later she advises you to "Listen to your heart, Not what the fortune cookie says Show me who you are" (from "Fortune Cookie"). The band goes from the ridiculously ordinary to the almost humorous (though I'm not sure that was the intent), like in "Reissue," where she admits she has "got love songs up the wazoo."

I'm sorry. I know I said I would try hard to restrain myself. And I did. Try, that is. Restraint is a difficult task, however, when you search but can't find anything nice to say about a band.

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn



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