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All That Noise

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Album Review

Somehow finding their way to getting a debut album down despite chronic lineup instability, the three members of the Darkside this time around create a good but honestly not great record in All That Noise. Essentially the problem is one of differing inspirations and what one can do with them. While Pete "Bassman" Baines' later work with the Darkside and on his own as Alpha Stone is much more distinct, here he and his bandmates coast in comparison, especially considering what his Spacemen 3 cohorts Sonic Boom and Jason Pearce were doing. Treat the album as a joyfully derivative diversion, though, and one will be in good hands. All three players know their psych/noise/folk-rock roots and how to work with them to skillful effect. Opening number "Guitar Voodoo" makes for a perfect intro, with a slow drum shuffle, a simple but quietly addicting bassline, and Kevin Cowan's guitar filigrees turning into heavy zoned and stoned glory. Followed immediately by the brief, snarling "Found Love," something of a Spacemen 3 slamming into the Jesus and Mary Chain effort, it makes for a great start to things, if at the same time showing the relative limits of what they can do. It's all fantastic mood music without question, but as the album continues it's also clear nearly everything starts calling back more memories of Spacemen 3 and that band's astonishing sense of reach and flow. Meanwhile, the Darkside are mostly content to pastiche the past instead of extending what's already there. Baines makes for a reasonable enough lead singer, but All That Noise still suffers in comparison, reaching an embarrassing low point with "Soul Deep," which tries to be Stax/James Brown-funky and ends up just stinking. The Byrdsy ring of "Good for Me" and "Waiting for the Angels" help things out, if only just.

All That Noise, The Darkside
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