Secret Machines

The Road Leads Where It's Led

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The Road Leads Where It's Led EP is a sort of holding pattern for the Secret Machines. The title track is taken from their debut album, Now Here Is Nowhere, and is probably the least successful tune on the album, the one time their influences of German motorik rhythms, psychedelic textures, and out-front vocals lead them to sound more like INXS than their usual blend of Mercury Rev, Led Zeppelin, and Ride. The other band original, "Better Bring Your Friends," is weaker than anything on the record, adding an of-the-moment disco-punk element but not much in the way of melody or interest. The rest of the disc is made up of covers with varying degrees of success. Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks" is an embarrassing attempt to turn the song into an anthem thanks to a pounding arena rock beat and power chords, while the old Motown nugget "Money (That's What I Want)" is stretched out to almost unbelievable length (seven minutes!), slowed to a funereal tempo, and is almost a parody of slowcore music. Better by far is their reverent version of Harmonia's "(De Luxe) Immer Wieder," and best of all is their take on Bob Dylan's "Girl From the North Country." They give the song dynamic tension, nifty space rock phasing, and some drama that is sorely lacking elsewhere, and come off sounding like Spacemen 3 at their finest. Apart from this one moment of inspiration, this EP hardly shows the Secret Machines at their best.

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