Able Tasmans

Songs from the Departure Lounge

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Although the Able Tasmans didn't get the same underground press attention in the U.S. as some of the other Flying Nun bands, the group's material matched the best work of their better-known peers on the label, such as the Chills and the Bats. Songs From the Departure Lounge mightily suggests they were just hitting stride on their last few LPs. In that sense, it's a pity that this well-selected best-of runs mostly in chronological order. That's perfect for those already in love with their ample charms, like a biography of a band that never stopped maturing. But the unfamiliar might be best served playing this CD is reverse order! The group started out with a pretty good clue of how to conceive music that sounded like it had been crafted by really nice people, the famous Kiwi undercurrent -- sound augmented so well by the hues and tones of the star keyboards -- the always fruitful piano, organs, and synth parts that pop in for tea on every song over the ghostly guitar 'n' bass moods. From there, they just continually improved on it, tightening the playing and augmenting their base with more and more lush instrumentation and comely production. Mind you, their early stuff is not that naive, and you might find yourself beguiled from the beginning. Indeed, two of the best songs come early. In an effort to spruce up this release for those who already had the band's LPs and EPs, unreleased tracks and demo versions appear too. From the liner notes, it's clear the band's still pals and now do their collaborating on adjoining pub stools. Why not buy this estimable collection of the cream of their work and encourage them to work again soon? (P.O. Box 677, Auckland, New Zealand;

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