Mike "Sport" Murphy's Uncle hardly seems the typical fare for the fiercely independent Kill Rock Stars imprint. That's not to say that Murphy isn't the fiercest of independents himself, but rather than the usual punk offering of the label, Uncle is a quiet homage to Murphy's firefighting nephew who died in the line of duty during the World Trade Center rescue effort. Murphy and his nephew Pete were quite close in age and grew up living together, forming a brotherly bond throughout their childhood. It's clear that Murphy didn't intend to make a record for all tastes here. Rather, this is a collection of thoughts, songs, and found recordings of them as young children, intended as an exclusive gift to Pete. It's got its share of in-jokes and bits that have little relevance outside their family, but there's not an ounce of sappiness in this tribute -- only truly heartfelt moments between Murphy and his nephew. In compiling Uncle's songs, Murphy included tracks that were inspired by the pair's mutual experiences, simple cassette recordings of the boys in their younger years, and even some later-recorded numbers with Pete in the studio. When songs were written specifically for this record, Murphy gave himself roughly a day to capture his emotions and record them to tape. What results is a Cohen-esque epitaph rendered in the form of an incredible record.
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AllMusic Review by Ken Taylor