Tim Rally Gold: With Us, Not At Us

Tim Rally Gold
With Us, Not At Us

I like to think I know a thing or two about production. As co-producer of my brother's limited-edition (and little sought-after) solo album, I provided such expert advice as "Turn up the vocals," "Cut the intro in half," and "You can't play guitar." But despite my client's knack for pop hooks, there was only so much that could be done with a cheap microphone and a copy of PlayStation's MTV Music Generator. Listening to With Us, Not At Us was a shot of déjà vu. Bobbing my head to an unmistakably synthetic rhythm section, I weighed the pros and cons and ultimately had to stare down the elephant in my head: fidelity.

Fortunately, Tim Rally Gold (not a guy but a college duo) don't try to pass their chintzy drum loops and soulless bass lines off as the real thing. Their basement pop tunes revel in the charm of 8-bit Nintendo beats without detracting from the live guitar and hipster-taunting lyrics. The album's best tracks bring to mind a few indie rock heroes' lo-fi beginnings. The simple melody that shines through the distorted clutter of "I Want Your Back" is reminiscent of Alien Lanes-era Guided By Voices, while the goofy backup yelps of "Planting Flowers" hint at They Might Be Giants' days without a full band. At its harmless worst, With Us, Not At Us sounds like the meager results of a dorm-room pastime; at its best, the album suggests a minor cult band in the making.

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