THERE'S A NEW logo at Twin/Tone, but not much else has changed, apparently. Imagine the lamest Replacements or Magnolias filler; now divide by half, since Westerberg wannabe John Ewing demonstrates little of Westerberg's or John Freeman's colorful personality or passion. Now multiply by 11, since no song on this de
but rises above banal. Ewing's shaky vocals become mere muffled shouts in this guitar-heavy mix, pushed ahead by Tom Cook's mechanical beat-keeping. Flashy guitarist Steve Brantseg roars ahead crazily, but what can ya do with compositions that call for little more than stock rock & roll time-killing. Softer songs stand out, though I think someone's already written "Maybellene" and "Throwin' It Away." You can bet Ewing will never write one called "Unsatisfied"; this veteran foursome seems perfectly pleased with big dumb shuffles, and one bad dose of thunder. (Meyer)
12 Rods have a lot of time on their hands, and they've taken advantage of it. The best parts of their effects-drenched, generically packaged CD EP gay? could be the richest recording ever made in the basement of a Minneapolis band's house. (Granted, it's not digital, but I was never much of a fidelity snob.) The ambiguously titled CD roams a peculiar territory between gritty, low-end aggression and light new wave textures. Tripping through six songs in 38 minutes (not counting the deft shorter edits of the two best songs, "Red" and "Mexico"), 12 Rods have no interest in the perfect pop song. Instead, they take four to 10 minutes a piece to develop a mood, build to a subtle, intoxicating climax, then stealthily exit just as you've lost track of the time.
As the Rods' faux-'80s edge reimagines new wave as deeper and darker than it really was; singer/guitarist Ryan Olcott sounds (like many of us) like he spent the decade hiding in his room from the adolescent hell beyond. In his endearing, peculiar tenor, he rips his hometown in "Make-Out Music" and wallows in the slow, humid "Gaymo," with his melancholy conclusion, "Everybody's cool except for me." There are a lot of uncool things about 12 Rods: their art-rock trappings, their technical proficiency, their brainy sarcasm, maybe even their four sets of eyeglasses. But you know and I know that the cool kids who once called the shots won't necessarily be the winners at the class reunion. (Groebner)