Townies    Reviews

Pluperfect / The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

Artwork for Pluperfect CD    Artwork for The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters CD

*  CMJ New Music Report (November 17, 1997)
*  The Big Takeover (Issue No. 42, 1998)

*  CMJ New Music Report (November 17, 1997)

Review by David Day

     [Townies] are a trio with a quixotic, brooding, ungraspable sound. The band's third release is actually two decidedly different EPs worth of material. The first, Pluperfect, is a diminutive departure from the slow, Low-like air-rock their fans may be accustomed to, and thus not much of a stretch for the band either. Its rhythms are stepped up a thump and Michael Kentoff adds a few more lyrics to the mix, with his subtle delivery, perfectly placed within the dense production. The short opening track "Firewall!" brings together a background of vocal drone and some acoustic and electric elements. "How Children Learn Mathematics" pounds along, building a bold crescendo of energy until it's dramatically cut off. The second EP, The Brotherhood [of Sleeping Car Porters], then picks up where the first left off. The four-song piece was recorded by Bill Ding's John Hughes III on a farm, and it shows, as the slowed, removed Townies sound makes a quiet, almost rural appearance here. Hughes's production is most obvious on "Columbus Proper," where his playful, knobturning style gives Kentoff's voice the spooky and echoing qualities of a dream narrator. The minimal guitar is occasionally warped backward, and the high-hat slips through the song-space, cloaked like a Klingon. [Townies] are an eloquent example of a thoughtful rock band and this album, in its entirety, is an exercise in diametric production. The band's talent is ambidextrous -- at one point its sound is dangerous, then it becomes methodical and cautious. Compare and contrast with "Jewish Rock Star," "Firewall (Destructed)" and "Carol's Time & Place."

© 1997 College Media Inc.


*  The Big Takeover (Issue 42, 1998)

Review by Theo Cateforis

     This CD compiles two Townies EPs onto one full-length release. On first listen, Pluperfect stands out as the more appealing of the two. That EP's five songs are steeped in melancholy guitar strummings, rich atmospherics and fragile vocals, not too far removed from Sebadoh's more tender moments. Things peak with the uptempo "How Children Learn Mathematics," a crafty song whose effervescent harmonic shifts brings to mind early 90's favorites Indian Bingo. The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters is a more oblique, lo-fi proposition. This EP captures the sound of a bedroom pop band fiddling around with an acoustic guitar, some effects pedals and a drum machine. That said, the songs still sound suitably mysterious and round off a CD's worth of fine tunes.

© 1998 Rodent Productions


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