National Splits

National Splits

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Using the moniker of the National Splits, former Wolfie and Mathlete member Mike Downey makes his solo debut by plowing through 15 slabs of charmingly tossed-off lo-fi rock in just over 30 minutes. Although rarely brilliant and never particularly innovative, Downey is a capable crafter of melodies, using a somewhat wavering Bowie-on-helium croon to navigate through bleached-out country, dark fuzz pop, and new-wavish rock. Even as he sometimes seems to get too sidetracked with low-tech tape manipulation, the songs are brimming with quirky personality, whacked-out guitar solos, and shape-changing structures. Uneven to a fault, ultimately it's the haphazard and half-finished qualities in the songs that give them their charm and save the set from being just another faceless indie rock record.

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