Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Minus 5 - Let the War Against Music Begin

The big question about a Young Fresh Fellows/Minus 5 double release is this: do the two bands sound different enough to necessitate the trouble of going by two separate names? Yes. Yes they do.

The Young Fresh Fellows are a jangle pop band, and they've defined what they do pretty well over the past 30 years that they've been doing it. The Minus 5 is much more nebulous. As I've discussed before, The Minus 5 is a supergroup with a constantly-changing membership. Each new iteration of the band brings something new to the table, so its hard to know how to classify in terms of genre.

This iteration of The Minus 5 starts with the two mainstays, Scott McCaughey and Peter Buck and adds Ken Stringfellow (Posies), Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees), Jason Finn (Presidents of the United States of America), Jon Auer (Posies), Rob Allum (High Llamas), Dennis Diken (Smithereens), Morgan Fisher (Mott the Hoople), Robyn Hitchcock, Steve Berlin (Los Lobos), Sean O'Hagan (High Llamas), and a buncha guys I don't know from anything else.

The approach on this album is a little more rock-ish than Young Fresh Fellows material, but it also dips a toe into the experimental pool (especially on the spoken word final track). Despite the fact that they bring in a whole lot of cooks, at no point does this album sound like there are too many cooks or that the kitchen isn't big enough for them. The Minus 5 is just one of the most mystifying things in the universe. I honestly wish I could just see how they put an album together, who does what, and how many awesome people are in the studio together at any given time. The fact that they have made as many albums as they have (8 thus far) is astonishing. I think in many ways I'm more impressed by who is involved in The Minus 5 than I am in the music itself (although I love the music).

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