February 8, 2007

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The Broken West, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On
Merge Records, 2007

Over in nu-mod land, The Broken West is going to be universally loved by the 0.09 percent of the population who truly find nirvana in the sound, never mind the Big Star suck-ups who’ll happily spit-shine the band’s patent leathers. That’s a fact, as opposed to a truth; another fact is that these 5 LA dudes have done their homework to the point of being able to teach a class on how to take Beatles/Raspberries boilerplate and fill in the blanks with indie-rock. The truth, though, is that they’ve put together a really strong album, not simply because of all the 60s aping but in spite of it. The truth is that this is probably the first slab of shagadelica to arrive in this office since Maximo Park’s A Certain Trigger that honestly got better after three listens rather than making me want to vent my disgust on the plush skulls of three-week-old calico kittens. Beatles detritus is omnipresent – a “She’s So Heavy” arpeggio on “Shiftee,” cheeseball George Harrison slide-guitar glissandos on “So It Goes” – but these wingnuts can also seriously nail them some Troggs-style early-60s sloppy-bangly vibe (“Down in the Valley”). Why commend a band for doing retro-retro at all? Because everyone else who’s trying it is doing a uniquely sucky job in comparison. A- — Eric W. Saeger