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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
American Music Club
Love Songs for Patriots
Merge Records

Rating: 7/10 ?

October 1, 2004
First, let's get your questions out of the way, so I review this record uninterrupted and you, having your doubts already dispelled, can skim it:

This is the American Music Club, right? Right.
Same members? Yes.
Aren't they like old, fat and bald, now? Not as old, fat and bald as the Pixies.
Same AMC sound? Yes, with a bit more jazz.
It's not a live CD or a rarity collection, is it? It's not.
Is it as good as Everclear? Close.
Though it may not make immediate sense, the reunion of AMC, 10 years after the belly-flop of San Francisco, couldn't have come sooner. Frontman Mark Eitzel needed a decade of struggling on his own to realize how sorely his songwriting requires a band with the talent and poise of original AMC members, Vudi (guitar), Danny Pearson (bass), Tim Mooney (drums), and new member Marc Capelle (piano/trumpet).

Love Songs for Patriots sounds just as one would expect an aged AMC to sound: with mature, yet loose arrangements with an edge but without balls back up Eitzel's gloomy, brooding voice, taking wry bitterness to familiar but novel highs and lows.

On "Ladies and Gentlemen," Pearson opens the album with something new from AMC, a noisy, fuzzy bass line - but, aside from light experimentation with electronics ("Love Is") and a few jazzy breakdowns and bridges, the rest of the album conjures memories of classic and not-so-classic AMC moments.

Still customary is Eitzel's knack for sarcasm and pessimism, especially on drunken-paced tracks like "Patriot's Heart," a song partly about the plight of a male stripper, but Capelle's piano-playing adds a new dimension of darkness to AMC's approach, sounding as if it were lifted directly from a tune playing in the lonely bar about which Eitzel writes.

The ninth track, "Myopic Books," one of the more beautiful songs AMC has written, features perhaps the most telling moment of the album. Over a dreamy, airy acoustic backdrop, Eitzel describes his ideal bookstore, praying for one that plays the music of Dinosaur Jr. For a moment, listening to AMC feels like 1994 all over again. Then, just like in 1994, AMC unravels and the album nearly falls apart.

The groovy, co-highlight of the record, "America Loves the Minstrel Show," is followed by "The Horseshoe Wreath in Bloom," the worst Cracker song not written by Cracker, which is followed by the dull "Song of the Rats Leaving the Sinking Ship," which is followed by the tedious, droning album-closer--and nearly slayer, "The Devil Needs You."

In the closing 16 minutes of the hour-long Love Songs for Patriots, Eitzel and company nearly devastate what is an otherwise strong reunion effort. The songs really are that bad. Fortunately for AMC, like the film A.I., Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Cardinals in 2004, a piece of work can still be a success despite a poor finish.

And, also fortunate for AMC, is that, unlike in 1994, modern medicine now has an answer for old farts who can't keep it up for an hour.

Reviewed by Brian Sutherland
The last we heard, Brian Sutherland lived in Chicago. He\'s a friend of Sarah Peters. That is about all we know about him.

See other reviews by Brian Sutherland



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