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Don't Tell Me Now

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Album Review

Don't Tell Me Now sees Calvin Johnson's baritone and Doug Martsch's high-pitched whine working with and against each other to catchy effect. Lyrically obtuse, with subject matter praising draft dodgers as heroes and a supremely catchy theme song about themselves, the Halo Benders create a guitar-heavy indie poptopia throughout the album. Martsch might not attack his guitar in as epic a fashion as he does with Built to Spill, but his trademark sound is on display throughout. Built to Spill fans might consider this a Built to Spill album as recorded by Martsch at a circus. If that metaphor holds up, Johnson becomes the ringleader, singing about all sorts of mundane things and randomly spouting clichés. Martsch in turn becomes the more serious guitar god and a more realistic conscience. The album might seem scatterbrained, but the mix of vocal styles makes for charming harmonies amid mostly enjoyable hooks. God Don't Make No Junk might be a little more charming and The Rebel's Not In might be better produced and more melodic, but Don't Tell Me Now has more than a few diamonds in its rough. It might be smart to note that each album contains a contraction in its title, as the fractured nature of the music suggests a similar fusing of two styles: Johnson's arch wit with Martsch's brave sonic force and heartfelt emotion. Don't Tell Me Now isn't a great rock & roll album, but it's as fun to listen to as it must have been to record.


Formed: 1994

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s

The Halo Benders were a side project for Built to Spill's Doug Martsch and Beat Happening's Calvin Johnson, uniting two of the Northwest's more idiosyncratic indie rockers. The results were appropriately loose and eclectic, with an off-the-cuff charm and a quirky sense of humor that brought them general critical approval. Johnson had spent the past decade-plus as the deep-voiced frontman of indie pop pioneers Beat Happening, in the meantime building his K Records imprint into a successful indie venture....
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Don't Tell Me Now, The Halo Benders
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