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the pathetic caverns - music by artist - House of Large Sizes

eclectic reviews and opinions

House of Large Sizes

Idiots Out Wandering Around

(What Are Records?, 2001)

After three spins, I'm finding this live album very pleasantly unvarnished. HOLS have been out wandering around for about ten years, and they've gotten pretty good. They're more riff-orientated than used to be cool, but the energy level, and sometimes the tempo, is still pretty punky. Even though tunes like "Lovely, But Deadly" have a lot of classic rock swagger, they're also spiked with post-punk angularity and dissonance: equal parts Pixies and Aerosmith? Most of the lyrics are vaguely surreal ("formerly a pizza repairman turned psychologist!") so when Dave Deibler spits out something that sounds heartfelt ("I'd give you anything, except a wedding ring,") it's doubly arresting. But only a handful of the songs really stick in my head, and there's not that much to distinguish the band from other acts working the same sort of territory.

HOLS are the unexpected headliners at the Black Cat on the ill-starred Friday the 13th after label/tour-mates Frank Black and the Catholics' gear is ripped off to the tune of $70K or so, forcing them to cancel. Are they always this good, or is the show some sort of catharsis? Bassist Barb Schlif spends so much time airborne she probably should have filed a flight plan; Deibler corkscrews around the stage like he's possessed, and drummer Brent Hanson is furious and intense. The set includes a lot of the twenty-two songs that make up Idiots Out Wandering Around, and as they play, I realize that more of their material has moved into my brain and taken up residence than I thought. By the end of the night I'm fishing through all my pockets for dollars so I can take away as much as possible from the merch table. By the end of the night I'm a convert.

I have trouble hearing anything wrong with this record. I put it on, it makes me grin. I turn it up, it makes me bounce. I notice how well-recorded it is for a live album, very clear, but also very "real." Bonus points to the band for making it through a brush with a major label with their souls clearly intact.

This review originally appeared in Snap Pop! magazine.

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