Underground

All the Passion in the World

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It is hard to predict where certain kinds of music will come from, but the San Francisco rockers Underground further that unpredictability by delivering a solid album of Smiths-influenced pop in 2002. Their delicate sound takes influence from '80s Brit-pop in general, utilizing the shimmering guitars and slurred little-boy vocals that made the genre such a potent force in pop music at the time. But the Smiths comparison is the most appropriate; this is one band that is not the least bit afraid to sound like their heroes. But much like Oasis and the Beatles, or Testament and Metallica, they manage to take their key influence and still write solid songs around the basic structure. The production is an example of lo-fi excellence, providing the music with the necessary space it needs to flourish. Because of this attention to detail, even the minor hooks still come off with the necessary feeling. The only real problem with the album are the vocals, which are appropriate but lack the grasp of melody that some may require for this sort of music. Best compared to Luna's Dean Wareham, the shaky (and uncredited) vocals are an acquired taste to be sure. But fans of this sort of jangly rock should really give this a shot, there is a lot of quality material here that is quite accessible for such an early time in the band's career.

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