To be honest, most individuals that are the driving force of the music scene – the all important 16-21 age grouping – will have no idea who Buffalo Tom, Dinosaur Jr, or the Lemonheads were. Hell, I’m 22 and I missed out on each of those bands by a good five years. However, the opening to this disc (which has Hilken Mancini from Fuzzy and Chris Colbourn from Buffalo Tom) really captures the sound of these early bands without having quite the dated sound that other albums from that period have. The vocals of Mancini on tracks like “I Will Die” have the dichotomy of smooth/rough that will immediately be enticing to listeners; with minimal focus in regards to the arrangements at times, eir voice really predominates and has a tempo-setting role.
Where there is not the rock-based intensity that is so prevalent in alternative rock nowadays (with bands like Franz Ferdinand really being the leaders of that front), the dynamic that Hilken and Chris have throughout the disc (especially on tracks like “Hannah”) make this a worthy candidate for best alternative album of the year. Much like the jam-influenced band Jellyfish, most of the music on this album really seems to be derived from an earlier form of alternative rock that really split off into jam-bandery (through intermediary bands like Rusted Root). Some of the simplest tracks on this album are the strongest; the instrumental interlude during “Moonbeams” has the wonderful effect of piercing listeners’ hearts with each subsequent hit of a piano key.
“In My Arms” brings Mancini’s vocals into the realm of Sixpence None the Richer, while the instrumentation present on the track really creates some interesting dissonance, coming from an earlier tradition. The dreamy vocals present on “Party Town” perhaps are the best in regards of eliciting the strongest sound for the instrumentation. While it is often that the instrumentation is impressive on this album, it takes an amazing track like “Party Town” to really give equal footing to both sides of this same coin. Something that is noticed during the second half of the disc is the tremendous influence on the act that “Disintegration”-era Cure had; on “Situations Count!” the arrangement just screams Robert Smith and the band with the longing sound of the guitar and emotive bass lines.A quick disc that really will hit home with a large section of fans whether new or well-versed in the music that these two came up with in the time before the band.
Top Tracks: Situations Count!, Hannah
Hilken Mancini and Chris Colbourn – S/T / 2005 Kimchee / 12 Tracks / http://www.hilkenmancini.com / http://www.kimcheerecords.com / Reviewed 17 October 2005