Win Lose or Both

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Win Lose or Both, true to its name, is split between four brand new studio recordings and nine live versions of Fastbacks favorites. The studio tracks are a treat, particularly the opening "No Music Played," which alternates a spare vocals-and-guitar verse with choruses that make use of that '70s art rock staple the E-bow (the magnetic device that makes guitars sound vaguely like electrified violins) and has a downbeat but not depressed feel akin to the best songs from 1993's masterful Zucker. A cover of the Mr. T Experience's ultra-poppy "Book of Revelation" sounds like an original, showing the Fastbacks' underrated influence on the bands that came after them. The live tracks, unfortunately, are less interesting: they sound basically like their studio counterparts played faster and sloppier, and lead singer Kim Warnick has some occasional pitch problems that distract from guitarist Kurt Bloch's always fine songwriting. The live tracks make this more of a curio for fans than an essential album, but the first third of the album makes up for them.

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