The Nines

Properties of Sound

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There was quite a buzz surrounding the Nines' 2001 sophomore release, and it's not hard to tell why. Taking the XTC-meets-the Beach Boys sound of their debut one step further, Steve Eggers and company crafted an engaging and diverse follow-up with Properties of Sound. The album feels like a collection of demos in various states of progress -- heard best in the trio of the joyfully sparkling "Melanie," the acoustic demo "I'll Be There Waiting," and the rough, rocking "Here It Comes" -- but that distinction is to the record's credit. It's true that studio gloss is nowhere to be found here, and that this disc sounds closer to lost vinyl from the mid-'70s than to today's mainstream radio. But Steve Eggers' songwriting elevates the album from this precarious state, giving the gorgeous "Doesn't Matter What I Do" and "Melanie" -- the album's two very best songs -- a stately feel that makes them wear better with each listen. The louder material even approaches the Oasis camp at times, with Eggers' distinctly British (although he is Canadian) songwriting style meshing with the distorted guitars perfectly. And the addition of bonus tracks of four songs that just didn't quite fit the album gives listeners a glimpse into what else could be found in Eggers' songwriting vaults, since these easily rank with nearly all of the disc. Sure, Properties of Sound seems trapped in time someplace, and sure, the lack of studio gloss may turn a few listeners away. But as such things go, Properties of Sound is among the best of its breed.

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