Last Exit to Garageland

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Given how many contemporaneous EPs by the quartet had overlapping track listings with this album, in its various forms, it's almost more accurate to call Last Exit to Garageland a best-of compilation than a standalone release. However one wants to consider it, Last Exit is pretty darn brilliant, an enthusiastic, sharp collection of punk/pop indie songs that find their own approach. At the time, comparisons flew thick and fast to such similarly minded bands as the Pixies and the Poster Children, but Garageland share an aesthetic rather than cloning anyone. It doesn't hurt that Jeremy Eade has a great singing voice and is able to kick up some high-volume delivery here and there (without sounding like, say, Black Francis) but is also just fine at calmer singing. The grand "Fingerpops" and "Come Back," both singles and both among the band's absolute best songs, capture both sides of his abilities, not to mention Garageland's collective skill at raising holy hell on the one hand and quietly skipping along on the other. There's also more than a little shoegaze and dream pop at play in the band's repertoire, heightened on the American release by the inclusion of Alan Moulder's mix of "Nude Star," with all the feedback wash and just-stoned-enough pace one could want from just a musically disposed gem. Other gems like "Pop Cigar," with its heavy duty drone buzz spiked with plenty of hooks, and the quieter "Jesus I'm Freezing" clearly demonstrate Garageland's attractive, enticing way around that style. Even more happily, Garageland don't always feel the need to either just rock out or switch between soft and loud. "Classically Diseased" stays calm throughout, almost seeming like it's going to explode but never actually doing so, while "Tired and Bored" is an honest-to-God anthemic epic that Weezer would kill for, and which never feels the need to blow out the amps.

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