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  Seduce The Government  
  The Trembling  
  Top Quality Rock and Roll  
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Iíve never been a big fan of Sleater-Kinney. Iím not sure why. On the surface, one would think that with my predilection for punk/garage rock Sleater-Kinney would be a band that would make sense to me. However, theyíve never spoken to me. Why is that relevant, you ask? Well, the press sheet, as well as most of the reviews, for Detroit band The Trembling cite Sleater-Kinney as a major sonic influence.

On the surface, I suppose itís a valid comparison. The Trembling are also a three piece band in which the front women share vocal duties. However, on the six song EP Seduce the Government, this band demonstrates a variety of musical styles, all placed firmly within a pop-punk tradition, complete with catchy guitar riffs and driving drums. In fact, if Iíd compare The Trembling with any band, itíd be with Texasís Junior Varsity, if only because the two bands both combine bubblegum-esque vocals with a danceable, quick-paced sound.

I didnít think of this comparison at first, mainly because I was focused on the best song on the EP, which just happens to be the first song, called Catch Up. Itís a bouncy, happy track which induces (in me at least) the need to dance around the house. Catch up reminds me of Butterglory in their prime, with the driving drums and catchy riff. In particular, I like the way the quickness of the pace is counteracted by the slow-ish organ part that comes in during the middle of the song. It creates a feeling of complexity that isnít perhaps inherent within the structure, but still manages to add something to it. Furthermore, this beginning track is also the song wherein I can visualize the band playing live, which is a very appealing picture.

After this strong beginning, I was disappointed by the next couple of songs. These were more punk-ish in their quality, with more of a Detroit edge about them. It was at this point that the Junior Varsity comparison entered my mind: the music is catchy and enjoyable, but there isnít enough substance to grasp my full attention. Likewise, the clear references to local places and events in the third song, Dilapidate could easily be the Detroit cousin to Junior Varsityís paean to Louisiana, Lafayette Rock City.

However, the next song on the EP, Askin For It was something of a surprise, since it seemed more like a forgotten Superchunk 7 inch from 1989 than I would have expected. By this, I mean that thereís more jangle and swirling guitars than in the earlier tracks, and I could imagine that the drummer was perhaps going to play something vaguely offbeat. Similarly, the fifth song was also different from the previous material. Whereas all of the earlier tracks were definitely rock, When I Die was the mandatory slow pseudo-punk ballad, complete with snide vocals and a thumping bassline. More importantly, it highlights the vocals in a way that isnít seen on the rest of the EP. However, when you emphasize the vocals, you inadvertently emphasize the lyrics (unless youíre The Cocteau Twins), and unfortunately, I found the lyrics for When I Die somewhat inane. And since the lyrics didnít really work for me, the repetition and sing-songy choruses made the song come across as more modern Schoolhouse Rock number.

When the last song began, I thought I was inadvertently listening to a different band. Words Are Getting Stuck has a male vocalist and the bass is finally up front. Furthermore, this song seems more melodic and features some nice counter play between the bass and guitar. Consequently, this song seems more complex in its structure than any other song by The Trembling, and perhaps suggests a future direction of the band as they mature.

All in all, the EP is something of a mixed bag. All of the songs are pleasant and none of them (except for the trite When I Die) make me want to cringe or skip to the next selection. Nevertheless, thatís also part of the failure of the album. Since nothing stands out, the material comes across on the whole as insubstantial. I suppose that is because The Trembling are a young band, who havenít quite find their voice yet. Hopefully, in the future, as this band comes together, they will be able to forge ahead and find an identity which more clearly expresses their musical vision, whatever it may end up being.

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