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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Seana Carmody

eclectic reviews and opinions

Seana Carmody

Struts & Shocks

(Kimchee Records, 2002)

Seana Carmody quit the perennially weird Swirlies to form Syrup USA, which released a few singles of swell crunchy indie rock in a vein very similar to that being mined by fellow Boston band Helium. Then Helium (and frontwoman Mary Timony) got swallow'd by some sort of Dungeons & Dragons monster and released some records full of Lord of the Rings-sorta stuff (well, so did Zeppelin). Syrup USA certainly one-upped Timony's silliness for their album; they dressed a bandmember as some sort of giant dog-bear-thing in the sleeve photo. I never figured out if songs like "People of the Lake" were quite as half-baked as their titles suggested, because what was immediately apparent was that they were overlong, and not all that interesting; they also didn't gel -- Carmody's voice had a weird painted-on-top quality, and the sound was murky.

Five years later, Carmody's new record seems to be set on Earth, and better yet, the song-writing, arranging, and production are all more focused. It sounds a lot like Helium again, with big processed guitars slathered everywhere, and hooks that sound a little odd, but right. It's when "I Can Troll" and "Tornadoes" go by that I find myself checking to see which song is playing, but it's all pleasant enough. Unfortunately closer "Stay Awake" goes on a little too long and gets a bit, well, snoozy.

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