First Grade Crush

Our Time Down Here

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Demonstrating, as if it needed demonstrating again, that you can never have too much goodhearted Midwestern ska-punk -- and, incidentally, that the theremin does indeed have a rightful place in that music -- First Grade Crush's second album comes on with a big, happy clamor. Tight but not too tight, tuneful but not overwhelmingly hooky, Our Time Down Here is a nicely unselfconscious fusion of subtle ska backbeats, unison horns, and heavy rock guitars. There's much more shouting than crooning, and the lyrics aren't always worth following ("Have you ever heard of someone named Esther who was still alive?," "T stands for trouble or else maybe a tsunami," etc.), but this band's joyful bluster carries the songs over quite nicely. Highlights include "u05/07/01," with its charming screwed-up harmonies, and the headlong "Sleepyhead"; low points include "Believe Everything You Read, Now" and "Whitetailed." Love that theremin, though. Seriously.

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