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Underground Aces

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Album Review

The cover depictions of riot police and trenchcoated men covering their ears have little if anything to do with the Mezzanines' brand of politely noisy guitar rock. Frankly, much of 2000's Underground Aces, their second album, lopes along like an indie-rock Hootie and the Blowfish: catchy and unassuming, but not particularly compelling. It's difficult to figure out exactly what stylistic path the trio (singer-guitarist Mark Baldwin, formerly of the much-praised Lovecup, bassist Matthew Fillipo and drummer Colin Koteles; only Baldwin remains from the self-titled debut's lineup) is hoping to tread, because the album is pretty much all over the map. Bits of Britpop (more Oasis than Blur), Velvet Underground-style art-pop and even Elephant 6-style lo-fi psychedelia are present, but they never really mesh in any satisfying way.

On the other hand, the handful of good-to-great songs are definitely worth checking out. The breathless "Fatigued," the snarky "Creative Temperament" and the rushed, sloppy but right-on "I Have Panic" have a brash enthusiasm missing from the rest of the album, and the winsome "Hold Me Close Now" is as charmingly naïve as an early Creation Records single. Baldwin sounds like he needs an editor or a creative foil, but his best songs suggest a still-maturing talent that could potentially blossom into something terrific.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The dreamy lo-fi trio Mezzanines was led by singer/multi-instrumentalist Mark Baldwin, previously the frontman for the cult favorite Champaign-Urbana, Illinois-based band Lovecup. Also featuring bassist Marco Nieto and drummer Alexander Dawkins, the group issued their self-titled...
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Underground Aces, Mezzanines
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