Let's get this out of the way: It is a hands-down delight to see Ms. Tina Schlieske kickin' it with a major label. She's smart, sexy, and sapphic (well, we hope so), and she's a hometown hero to boot. After birthing a long line of influential boy-rockers (the Replacements, Bob Mould, etc.), the Twin Cities finally has contributed a female vocalist to the mix of pop-music
That said, it would be so easy to unconditionally love the new Tina and the B-Sides record, It's All Just the Same (Sire Records, $16.98). You want to fall head over heels for the music, but some things just don't click. There's the Dylan-esque--not in a good way, mind you--vocal on the lead track, "In My Own Time," and the rest of the disc is plagued by slick overproduction, plus a few too many rhymes of the "sun/one/done" variety.
There are standout tracks here, and, not surprisingly, they're the songs that you can imagine the group performing live. The exuberance and the sexy slyness of a Tina and the B-Sides show comes through on songs like "Please Wake Me" and the earnest yet sleazy "Take Me Down." For five-plus minutes, Tina pleads with breathy emotion to "know what it's like to be a sinner" and other assorted delights, while Jeremy Plumb's bass slinks around behind her. The excitement of these two tracks doesn't carry over to the bulk of the songs on this record, though.
Still, it's high time that people as talented and driven as these folks get the recognition they deserve, but that won't happen until the sheer sweaty energy of their performances can be translated to a disc.