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The Replacements - Dead Man’s Pop Music Album Reviews

The new box set includes demos, a live show, and a fascinating, stripped-down remix of the band’s 1989 album Don’t Tell a Soul that reveals an alternate history of one of their most divisive records.
The Replacements story is filled with what-ifs and near misses. Their legend, essentially, is that if the chips had fallen differently, they might have become a popular band and had success into the 1990s, like their friends and rivals R.E.M. What if they had played ball with their label? What if they hadn’t made so many enemies? What if they hadn’t been so fucked up?

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Squid - Town Centre Music Album Reviews

The wonderfully anarchic British post-punk outfit tries out a little of everything on a promising debut EP.

On their signature single “Houseplants,” Squid chronicle the struggle to find decent lodgings on the cheap in London. Rather than grumble along with the rest of us, they dismantled their gear and drove a few hours south to Brighton, where core duo Ollie Judge and Louis Borlase rented an apartment by the sea. Ditching the capital wasn’t necessarily an act of industry subversion, but it stems from the same irreverence that animates their anarchic music. For one thing, they have no frontperson: Lead singer Judge is also the drummer, so if anything he’s a rearperson. As with contemporaries black midi, their frenzied live shows emanate from the drum kit. Guitarists and bassists, typically the phallic standard-bearers, are swallowed up like detritus into a whirlpool, then soundtrack their fight to survive.


“Houseplants” doesn’t appear on this Dan Carey-produced debut EP, but plenty rivals its antic spirit. On “The Cleaner,” a jittery seven-minute duet between Judge and Borlase, an indignant shop cleaner yelps about coworkers who “don’t even know my name” before clocking off to orchestrate his own glory on the dancefloor. “Match Bet,” at first a hurtling indie rock tune, plateaus and re-emerges in a motorik dreamscape, via the portal of a 32-bar cornet solo.

Judge, who is 25 and usually yelling, jerks between bewilderment and martial discipline, defying anything resembling a speaking cadence. His “Match Bet” narrator faces a perilous choice: to cut the “red wire” or the “blue wire” when, “well, they all look the same to me.” The politically disillusioned are an object not of mockery, but of primal empathy. Comparisons between Judge and the barking Brits of early postpunk are there to make—some will find the likeness jarring—but Judge’s rhetorical tone lands closer to David Byrne and his mania of the mundane. (“This is my beautiful house/But I can’t afford to live in it,” he trills on “Houseplants.”) The vocals vamp and contort until circumstances too often presented as normal—encroaching social alienation, preposterous living costs—suddenly appear insane, and we wonder who wouldn’t bounce off the walls in despair.

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When it isn’t on the offensive, Town Centre waltzes from Tortoise-shelled post-rock (“Savage”) into oddities like “Rodeo,” a morass of Neu! ambience, shuddering cello, and elliptical spoken-word. Being unselfconscious mostly suits them: Once an audacious young band starts to sound like a little of everything, they’ll eventually go full circle, sound like nothing else. Squid are getting there, avoiding genre constrictions they’d later have to wiggle from underneath. More than the map to a promising destination, Town Centre sounds like a declaration of limitlessness.


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