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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - The Capstan Shafts

eclectic reviews and opinions

The Capstan Shafts,

Great Reset Button of Life

ample tribes for sullen King Pounder

(Ladder the Christmas Monkey Records, 2004)

Dean Wells, who I'm guessing is all by hisself pretty much The Capstan Shafts, sent me two EPs to review in as many months.

Both feature things that usually make me write off an act completely -- haphazard recording, unsteady drums, and slopppy ritards like songs skidding into ditches.

The funny thing is, I like them both. So what earns The Capstan Shafts their pass?

First, Wells's songs are pretty catchy -- admittedly a subjective judgement, but important. Secondly, the lead vocals seem to be performed with the most care -- Wells has an agreeable baritone and accurate-enough pitch that my own less-than-perfect ears are only rarely bothered. Third, none of the songs overstay their welcome -- the 12 tunes on 2 eps average less than 2 minutes each. Finally, there's some welcome textual variation among the songs (especially on "Ample Tribes").

"Reset Button" has slightly better songs, slightly worse performance/production values and a little less twang than "Ample Tribes," but the differences are minor. I wouldn't recommend either of these EPs to anyone whose affection for Guided by Voices hadn't carried over into at least one Tobin Sprout record, and the rest of you probably won't find these records in stores, but you can drop a line to "208 lyndonville vt 05851" or deanedwardwells at

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