Naked Soul


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Naked Soul's debut-in-miniature was and is a rough little gem of a release, showcasing Conley's apt knack for the heartfelt wrapped up in loud noise. As a transition from MIA and as its own effort, it's a-treat-and-a-half -- while the connections to groups like Hüsker Dü and the Replacements are obvious (further heightened by the cover of "Answering Machine" that the band would bust out live around that time), it's never stifling. Part of the reason is Conley's own strong singing, just as apt to be reflectively calm as forcefully raspy, while there's just enough vocal harmony work to give the songs some extra zing. Conley's guitar is big and heroic without being metal-god wanky, reason enough for praise, while the Sewell/Pearson rhythm section aren't any slouches either; the Jeff Eyrich/Mark Ettel production team has an ear for the group's collective strength and captures them in accessible, powerful form. "Lonely Me Lonely You," Seed's lead single, easily ranks as a lost shoulda-been-a-hit from the early '90s -- like the Goo Goo Dolls' "There You Are," it just nails a combination of emotion, yearning, and tuneful power that's instantly memorable while still lingering long after hearing. The other songs each have similar strengths, but perhaps the most entertaining is a cover of the Who's power pop classic "So Sad About Us" -- if not as surprising a turn as the Breeders' own take from the same year, it's still a fine, impassioned rip (and makes the Jam's own remake seem like the weak-ass cheese it is).

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