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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
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The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
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
Is This Progress?
145 Records

Rating: 4/10 ?

October 1, 2004
The Obsoletes hail from the Fox Valley, an area of Wisconsin known for its paper mills and foundries, and feature members of the pop-punk outfit Yesterday's Kids and the power-pop oriented Benjamin's. Now, I really hate to dig on Wisconsin bands, especially since I spent the first 24 years of my life there. And now that my current tenure in the Sunshine state makes me wax poetic about my formative years, it makes this review no less painful. The Obsoletes play rock-n-roll reminiscent of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, the Replacements and Big Star, with a tinge of country twang thrown in for good measure.

When done right, country tinged rock can be great (big ups to the Supersuckers' rocking country tribute); when it misses, country and rock can be a lethal combination. The best attributes of both country and rock-n-roll are its edgy persona, rough around the edges attitude and naked emotion. Unfortunately, as of late, both genres have tended to move away from those attributes to become downright sappy and syrupy.

Unfortunately, the Obsoletes debut for 145 Records, Is This Progress?, dotes on the latter. Justin Perkins, Jon Phillips and Timothy Schweiger are tight songwriters. Everything on Is This Progress? is well written and slickly arranged; however, when playing rough-around-the-edges rock, these tendencies can be overdone. There needs to be a certain amount of grit to make down-home rock-n-roll work, which is sorely lacking on the Obsolete's debut. Schweiger's lyrical work is a tale of rural Midwestern life, the life of normal Joes and Janes, but the lack of attention-grabbing licks and a greasy underbelly is what brings everything down.

The standout track is the album's most rocking tune, "Sad State of Affairs," with its cow punk riffs and punchy chorus. The twangy distortion creates an energy that is unmatched throughout the rest of the album.

The Obsoletes belong in smoky roadhouse bars, playing to throngs of local bikers and farmers. Even with their tight songwriting chops, nothing stands up to repeated listens or manages to commit to memory.

Reviewed by Craig Mertes
Craig lives, works and listens to music in the general vicinity of Orlando, Florida, where he absorbs everything from hip-hop to indie, pop, rock, punk and metal. His all time favs include Hum, Clutch, Dismemberment Plan, and the Reverend Horton Heat. The last we heard, Craig was spinning Vast Aire, Soul Position, Blues Explosion, Motörhead, the Blood Brothers and Dead Meadow. Craig is also a life-long, die-hard Cubs fan, so lay off.

See other reviews by Craig Mertes



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