Cheat Sheet

Songs to Yawn To

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Some bands clearly reach to sounds of the past in their music, while others just seem like they'd fit comfortably into another decade without really trying. Cheat Sheet are a band that clearly falls into the latter category -- listening to their debut album, Songs To Yawn To, these guys sound like they'd be perfectly suited for a bill alongside Pavement, Sebadoh, or Nice Strong Arm, but at the same time they don't seem to be copying any of them, and there isn't a hint of 1980s or 90s nostalgia in their music. David Serra and Jason Lymangrover are just two guys who write fractured but tuneful melodies, play them with a stripped-down, slightly noisy attack, and have figured out how to sound slack and firmly committed at the same time. And they happen to be very good at all these things; Songs To Yawn To brings all those pieces together with skill, cleverly applied craft, and an understated wit that satisfies without suggesting they're reaching for goofy laughs. Their meditations on the mingled pleasures of booze and caffeine ("Neon Brown"), skateboarding after dark ("Variflex vs. BMX"), struggling with aggravating telephone service systems ("Customer Disservice") and the beauty of outdated analog technologies ("Cassette Culture") are smart and just as funny as they should be while sincerely honoring their obsessions at the same time. And for a band that has clearly emerged from the grand tradition of two guys messing around with a Portastudio, Songs To Yawn To is imaginative and genuinely pleasurable even as the final track finds them nodding off after a hard day of recording. Anyone who believed the golden age of bedroom recording was over, listen up -- Cheat Sheet could well be your new heroes, and listening to Songs To Yawn To is a lot more fun than waiting for Pavement to add more dates to their reunion tour.

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