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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Heatmiser

eclectic reviews and opinions


Mic City Sons

(Caroline, 1996)

I'm not sure what it really is about this record that gets to me, but something sure does. Part of it: primary songwriter Elliot Smith specializes in tales of alcohol-fueled brooding melancholy, delivered in a husky voice that feels half-whispered, but the band gives things enough of a primal rock'n'roll kick that it often comes off morose and energetic at the same time. The lyric fragments that jump out at me -- these guys are not exactly specialists in ultra-clear enunciation -- generally intrigue, like "I remember, I remember, why I dream in black and white," from "Plainclothes Man." And there's a couple melodies that are sing-along in the shower candidates. But there's a whole-greater-than-the-sum-of-the-parts sorta thing going on that has won this disc an unusually big share of time in my cd player.

I saw 'em live in San Francisco back in late Novemember '96; the songs sounded alright, but the band suffered from an underwhelming stage presence. (Actually, it was one of the worst shows I ever saw from a band I really liked. They looked like they'd rather be anywhere than on stage playing -- and given that they broke up shortly thereafter, that was probably the case. And the show was so bad that I avoided Smith live thereafter. Now I'm sorry.)

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