New School/Old School

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There's trouble brewing in Silkworm's New School/Old School radio/retail sampler, and it's not the kind of trouble that's very interesting. The 12 odds and ends from albums, singles, and split one-offs collected here suffer from a feeling of sameness and a sense that these songs are far too derivative of the band's more talented (or simply more focused) peers. New School/Old School sees Silkworm sounding more than ever like Pavement light, and as history hasn't necessarily been that kind to Pavement -- let alone the Pavement wannabe bands like Urusei Yatsura, Archers of Loaf, and Silkworm -- there's not much of a reason to recommend New School/Old School. None other than Pavement's Stephen Malkmus appears here on one of the album's few highlights, "You Ain't Going Nowhere," contributing his trademark guitar sound and jagged warble. The track predates the Malkmus/Silkworm project the Crust Brothers, but it displays a similar charm. Fans will be familiar with many of the song titles, since most of the songs are extracted from or are alternate recordings of tracks from the band's full-length releases: Developer, Firewater, Libertine, L'ajre, and In the West. Liner notes from bassist Tim Midgett, in the self-deprecating, annotated style of those on R.E.M.'s Dead Letter Office, seem to symbolically display the sort of slacker mindset that went into the compilation. Whether or not New School/Old School qualifies as a best-of Silkworm or some sort of indie collector's item is debatable, but it's the sort of promotional leaf that's best left unturned if one stumbles upon it in the used bin of the local record store.

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