Jonathan Fire*Eater

Wolf Songs for Lambs

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DreamWorks actually courted Jonathan Fire*Eater, which is bizarre -- no matter how photogenic the quintet is, their music is simply not meant for the mainstream. Fortunately, the band's sound isn't drastically cleaned up on their major-label debut, Wolf Songs for Lambs, but that doesn't mean that the record is the powerhouse it could have been. The production is somewhat muted, meaning that the band never tears into the songs like they do in concert, but that turns out to be a minor complaint, because Jonathan Fire*Eater has such an individual, idiosyncratic sound that even weak moments sound kinetic. Through most of Wolf Songs for Lambs, the group comes across as a hybrid of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Pavement and the Make-Up -- they have the twisted, unpredictable songstructures of Malkmus' crew, the hipster blues of Spencer and the revolutionary zeal of the Make-Up -- and while the songwriting is uneven, the record still shows more style, substance and originality than most post-alternative guitar combos. It may not find Jonathan Fire*Eater fulfilling their potential, but Wolf Songs for Lambs remains a strong debut.

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