Llama Farmers

El Toppo

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On El Toppo, Llama Famers revisit the grunge-meets-Brit-pop concoction they worked out on Dead Letter Chorus, tightening their hooks and sounding a tad more mature this time around. Singer/guitarist Bernie Simpson is probably too cheeky for most Nirvana fans, but he does manage to pull off a pretty good imitation of J. Mascis's vocal ennuyé (when he's not singing serene harmonies with his sister, bassist Jenni), and just like other suburb-dwelling Brit-poppers, he's got the same natural gift for lucid, tuneful melodies. It's unfortunate that Simpson and his mates are all too content to ensconce those melodies (which are at their prettiest on "Snow White" and "Note on the Door") in grunge lite guitar riffs, an MO that's bound to lead some to peg Llama Farmers as My Bloody Valentine with the vocals cranked up and the guitars turned way down. El Toppo shows these up-and-comers improving their songcraft by leaps and bounds, but they're not quite ready to compete with Brit-pop's big boys -- or Nirvana, for that matter.

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