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  Light As A Feather, Stiff As A Board  
  Sharks & Minnows  
  Two Sheds  
Release Date:
Reviewed by:

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, Etc..

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 vocals.

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 live!

Related Links:

A review of Julie, ETC., the debut EP by Sharks & Minnows.


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