Some reviews and such…
This guy is a real sweetheart:
If you’re too lazy to follow the link, here’s a self-serving and sort of weird cut-and-paste of what was written:
“I worry that not unlike B. Coley, Earles won’t receive his due recognition becuz his best writing comes in small protein packets similar to the insects upon which smaller primates chomp so efficiently. His well-placed brushwork rests so comfortably – as if it hasn’t been labored over – like a primed-n’-ready casual rant waiting to leapFanclub and Moonshake)”
The following three reviews were originally made public by Still Single…if you don’t read it already, start…and you can get to the actual page by clicking the title lines.
Seeing as how we are shuffling through an era in which no one seems to remember records that came out last week, I suppose it makes an unimportant degree of sense that no one remembers the mid-decade, laughably-misguided anti-rock (“Rock is Dead,” “Indie Rock is the antithesis of inspiration,” and so on) trend that unleashed several unfortunate offshoots upon our world. One of them was responsible for landfill upon landfill of insipid, guitar-and-various-drone-spouting diddle-daddle, quite a bit of which was indistinguishable from BOTH sides of this 10”. Entire labels were dedicated to boring the shit out of listeners who were once on fire with a passion for what the same underground gave them until it turned its back on rock. It doesn’t matter what the faux-raga guitar does or doesn’t do on one of these tracks, nor does it matter what the sparse beats from some electronic shit-box do, or where they come from, or what they add to their track, because it’s not an addition if it simply joins a bunch of other instrumental afterthoughts that feel like nothing and speak to the problem of passing off a musical void as a “something.” This mouthful applies to each and every second of this 10”, as does the placement of a fucking Elk on the cover. This label is from Switzerland, so perhaps some of the blame can be absorbed by that thing they do with our cultural bric-a-brac. At times like these, I half-seriously wish that Fennesz wasn’t as good as he truly is. The delusion of similarity and shared inspiration is suffered by far too many dudes sporting guitar necklaces or hovering over folding tables of boredom-boxes. Numbered edition of 300.
The jury has deliberated for a matter of minutes and returned with a verdict for this 10” and the Tomten discography as a whole: this Seattle quartet is guilty of adult-contemporary non-music that adheres to a distinct strain of the hydra-headed cultural clusterfuck marketed as the “I”-word. If luck found this combo, the civilian casualties of said 100% mainstream “indie” plague would blindly gobble up Tomten’s lifeless mix of everything you’ve already forgotten about Girls combined with everything you’ve long forgot about Belle and Sebastian (to clarify: the disposable filler punctuating those band’s disparate discographies). Something new happens when I read a list of SEO-optimized search tags on a Bandcamp page like “baroque pop dream pop electric folk indie rock vintage pop Seattle,” as Tomten has so vaguely identified on their own. I automatically and permanently let it serve as a major red flag. Why is this? That’s an honest, but one-sided, question (unless someone actually wants to waste their time emailing me a theory or two) question, though I have found that rock-based music following the same trend as Tomten can no longer be saved by amazing songwriting or towering hooks (this 10” contains nothing of the sort, btw). That is pretty scary, people. Black vinyl.
The latter of these two gentlemen was the singer/bassist of Hurl and has logged hours in Don Caballero, The(e) Speaking Canaries, Implodes, and Papa M, and lent a hand or two a Slint reunion of the last few years (I can’t be bothered to keep up with which one, or when). Motivated by personal taste and simple communication of fact, I can say that there are a few top-drawer bands in that list. His side, like the flip of this one, and both sides of Three:Four Split Series Vol. 4(reviewed above) is the sound of choosing which roll of brown paper towels to purchase at Whole Foods. No one is expected to make or be involved with the same type of music that defined their 20s as they navigate life’s later decades, but it would be nice if 15-25 year-long career trajectories didn’t slap us in the face with blunt predictability. This Swiss label’s nifty little 10” series is like hearing musicians try to stab the past of unique and special rock music in the back with a plastic picnic knife, and all of it sounds and feels no different from the armies of anti-rock Tylenol PM that inflicted or attempted to inflict boredom onto each year of the past two decades … and then some. Mercifully limited to 300 copies and symptomatic of how inland Europeans sometimes handle American creativity.