Townies    Reviews

The Red Carpet Parlay of the Decade

Artwork for The Red Carpet Parlay of the Decade

*  CMJ New Music Report (March 21, 1994)
*  Option (Number 57, July/August 1994)

*  CMJ New Music Report (March 21, 1994)

Review by James Lien

     Remember the chill the first time you heard American Music Club, Galaxie 500, the Feelies, Shrimp Boat, or whichever dreamy band became your personal obsession? Well, that same chill, that same warmth, that same weird feeling of finding a new friend emerges from the glow of Townies' first CD. Townies don't attempt to do a lot, but what they do, they do beautifully: crystalline guitar rock in a post-Velvets vein without attitude or pretension. A lot of it has a strong bedroom-y feel to it, like Sebadoh, but without the snarl or goofy slackerisms; instead, they're just ordinary people. We'll be frank: Singer [Michael Kentoff] doesn't have much of a voice, just a low-key, grainy kind of whisper, like a young Lou Reed back when he had a vocal range of five notes instead of two. But he turns what most would consider a hindrance into a strength. His vocals are unassuming and carry a ring of truth that belies the thought behind the lyrics. There's a spooky, phase-shifted spaciness about the guitars--songs that sound like they were composed under very low lighting conditions, very late at night. And hey, "Ex-Friendville" even sounds like it might have come from the pen of Ray Davies. High praise, yes, but this is good stuff.

© 1994 College Media Inc.


*  Option (No. 57, July/August 1994)

Review by Eddie Huffman

     A batch of odd songs as played by early R.E.M. and sung by Chris Stamey in a mellow mood. On these seven songs, this trio sounds something like Yo La Tengo on Fakebook or the Vulgar Boatmen on Please Panic. It's a sound that's as delicate as it is geeky; nasal vocals floating above deliberately strummed electric guitars. The songs have an inscrutable charm, offering faint echoes of They Might Be Giants and that group's flair for subverting and exploiting the structures of show tunes and novelty songs for dweeb-rock purposes. I don't know that I'll ever listen to this EP enough to figure out what's going on in Pennsylvania in "Non-Fiction County," or why somebody "went to California 25 years too late" in "Ex-Friendville," but I expect I'll pay attention when Townies make another record.

© 1994 Supersonic Media


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