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Just the Blues Sped Up

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Album Review

As has been the case in the past for Sneeze, there's such an eclectic span of styles on this album that it's hard to get a grip on exactly what this band is all about. Part of the amorphousness could be because some of the material on this 2004 release was in the group's set, or was even in the process of getting recorded, long before this CD hit the market (the origination of some songs dating back to the group's first live gigs in 1996). There's also the issue of the core of the band getting embellished (and, at times, replaced) by so many non-group members on assorted tracks that it's kind of bewildering trying to keep the personnel straight. Variety can be a virtue, but the main shortfall here is that the songs aren't special. The range, it must be emphasized, is admirable: quasi-hard rock, psychedelic, punkish numbers that verge on Fall-like harshness at times, amiable No Depression-like country-rock, turgid soul-pop vaguely reminiscent of Lambchop, a song that sounds like it might be gay-oriented swamp rock ("That Man's My Weakness"), pop-punk that can recall both Elvis Costello and the Ramones, dissonant experimentation with backwards tapes, and more. It's kind of like being at an open mic night, but with a rotating assortment of bands that play with much more assurance than you usually hear at such events. And it's performed with such confidence that you have the impression you're missing some clever in-joke or meaningful concept not evidenced by the middling quality of the music.

Just the Blues Sped Up, Sneeze
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