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Back Off Cupids

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Album Review

It took what seemed like forever, but six years after they were all recorded, more or less, the various tracks by John Reis' nearly solo, mostly instrumental side project finally surfaced as a self-titled album. The couple of cuts that had already popped up on compilation releases reappeared here along with the rest, making for ten tracks of fine Reis goodness. The appearance of horns on "Trivial Pursuit" (some played by Jason Crane, otherwise the Back Off Cupids' drummer and only other member) inevitably calls Rocket From the Crypt to mind, but the Back Off Cupids are hardly Rocket redux. Neither is this simply Drive Like Jehu part two — instead, Reis here emphasizes a generally quieter but no less tense approach, spiked with just enough aggressive energy to remind a listener that this is the guy partially responsible for modern epics like "Luau!" Certainly opening cut "Meek Inherits Space" has a subtle, threatening build, his overdubbed guitars and Crane's drumming feeling, indeed, like something taking off into the heavens. From there Reis tries out a variety of moods, from the percussionless chimes and moods which begin "Now We're Asian" to the exultant, anthemic conclusion of "I'm Stolen," with its main drive there provided as much by keyboards as guitar. At points the music is almost a complete turnaround from Reis' other work — consider the rumbling, structured speaker hum and sweet, sad aura of "Can You Hear My Sleep Dog?," a standout track. Perhaps the most telling thing about the Back Off Cupids is that while at points one can imagine either Reis or Drive Like Jehu's Rick Froberg singing over all the songs instead of just Reis here and there, the tunes still easily stand on their own. There's no better testament to Reis' skill and abilities.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Back Off Cupids was the solo project of prolific San Diego-based indie rocker John "Speedo" Reis, who first surfaced in the short-lived hardcore group Pitchfork before forming both Rocket from the Crypt and Drive Like Jehu, two of the more acclaimed art-punk outfits of the decade. In 1994, Reis began scoring a film titled Drama in the Lunar Womb, but when the picture was shelved he completed the music under the moniker Back Off Cupids,...
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Back Off Cupids, Back Off Cupids
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