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The Soft Pack, Male Bonding preview

| April 7, 2010 | 0 Comments

Empty Bottle, Chicago
Friday, April 9, 2010

What’s in a name? Apparently not much. Before they were The Soft Pack they were The Muslims, though that’s where the daring ended.

That’s not intended to be a slam but a recalibration of what we’re to expect from The Soft Pack. Their old moniker might have been a slick way of getting people to check them out, but what endeared them to the U.K. music press and Spin was these San Diegans’ detached, Strokes-y roll. Two years since they were discovered and then moved-on-from in the Internet-hype washer, the band’s self-titled, Kemado Record debut reveals merely a refinement of their non-desert sound. At first it deals with the hype directly, observing “Don’t have the look, don’t have the name/ Don’t have the walk, don’t want to talk, don’t act the same” but eventually you start to think you could like these guys.

Despite the invitations to typecast The Soft Pack, they wear their influences well and don’t get caught up trying to out Lou Reed Lou Reed. Dirty but not crunchy guitars competently carry their urban ennui with the occasional explosion into rocking. Maybe slow and steady wins the race?

Recent Sub Pop signing Male Bonding are hip to this fad of mimicking lo-fi recording by releasing their May 11th debut, Nothing Hurts, with a poor mixing job. (Appropriately, Vivian Girls guest on the closing track.) Why vocalist Kevin Hendrick is a target for this burial is anyone’s guess. Opener “Year’s Not Long” puts speed behind the longing howl of Glasvegas, quickly to be followed by the speedy Sebadoh rumble of “All Things This Way.” For such a cloudy piece with little genuine musical invention, Nothing Hurts is a surprise candidate for debut of the year, latching onto the youthful ambition of ’80s SST bands and hinting they know who Phil Spector is — they just don’t have his means.

The Beaters open.

— Steve Forstneger

Click here to stream The Soft Pack’s “Answer To Yourself.”

Click here to download Male Bonding’s “Year’s Not Long.”

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Category: Stage Buzz, Weekly

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