Sharks & Minnows are an Atlanta-based power-pop trio. They
are a young band, and this album reflects that. Basically, Sharks
& Minnows still suffer from poor production, just as they did
on their debut EP, Julie,
The production still has the voice way out in front of the
other instruments. The guitar is kind of up there as well. In
fact, it sounds like the drummer and bassist played live in
the studio, and then the guitar and voice were over-dubbed on
top of the rhythm. The voice and guitars (both by lead S&M-er
Christoper SImony) are wayyy out in front of the rhythm. Not
that this is bad -- it's not like he has a bad voice or lacks
talent, on the contrary, i like his singing and playing.
It's just that, well, the bass and drums sound muffled. Especially
the drums, they sound terrible! It's not that bad if you are
listening to the album through your speakers, but when you but
on your headphones you really hear it. It sounds like the drummer
was playing inside of a cardboard box a few rooms away from
the singer, and the bassist was in some room in-between. Which
is a shame because power-pop really relies on it's rhythm...
So my advice to you -- do not listen to this album on headphones.
Plop it into the stereo and turn the volume up! You'll be treated
to some good power-pop. You might notice that the drums sound
a little flat, but it's qutie listenable.
Especially when you consider the songwrting of Sharks & Minnows.
The music varies from Replacements-y post-punk (Typhoid Mary)
to Smiths-like new wave (She Hangs On The Western Wall)
to pseudo-Green Day crunch poppy goodness (Cardinal Puff).
It's an album to bop along to.
Standout tracks include Even While You Sleep Tonight,
my favorite, which really hits the "BritPop" genre in a way
that Blur have failed to do of late. She Hangs On The Western
Wall starts off with light strummed guitar and Morrissey-like
lyrics, then explodes into a frenzy of rhythm. I also really
like Parlance, which starts slow and then builds to be
fuzzed out to the max, with Simony bellowing. This might have
Simony's best guitarwork, and features some really nice echo-y
There are also a few "power ballads" on the album, specifically
High A.M. and A Dream About Matches. High A.M.
is okay, but A Dream About Matches is a really nice song.
It's the longest on the disc (at 8:28), but features some of
the albums best (clearest) drumming, and also some nice pianowork.
I find it interesting to hear Sharks & Minnows perform power
ballads a la 80's hair metal bands like Bon Jovi or Poison.
Heck, A Dream About Matches is their Home Sweet Home.
This sort of blatant reference to a time period that most people
would like to forget (the 80's metal scene), well, it makes
me happy. I mean, c'mon -- most of the people my age are familiar
with that type of music -- it was everywhere and you couldn't
avoid it. I respect Sharks & Minnows for daring to play power
ballads. Kudos to them. It shows that they have a sense of humour,
and at the same time some nostalgia. Heck, they covered
Def Leppard in concert, so they can't be that pretentious....
So my verdict -- this is a solid album with good songwriting.
Sharks & Minnows continued to be hampered by poor production,
but that's something easily overcome. Heck, if your songs stink,
then no amount of production is going to help you.....
I hope that they hire a real producer next time. i would like
to see the band work with J Robbins of Burnign Airlines, who
produced the last Plan album.
I bet he could make Sharks & Minnows sound as good as they do