Saturday, January 27, 2007

Walt Mink - Little Sister

Any band lucky enough to get a rating of 10 on Pitchfork today would probably be pretty happy. Maybe they'd even assume that such a strong endorsement would assure them a career. Certainly the Arcade Fire acts as if this is so, and they didn't even get a perfect score. But Walt Mink, a power trio from St. Paul, Minnesota, flamed out just as their critical star was rising.

Walt Mink began life at Macalester college in the early '90s and achieved a moderate level of fame. They scored a deal with Caroline for their debut album and sales were not horrible. However, the band's sound--Smashing Pumpkins as sung by the Chipmunks--was an odd one, and surely no one predicted these guys would become much more than cult faves. If not for their brilliant swan song El Producto it is doubtful that Walt Mink would even qualify as "cult."

On their final album, Walt Mink exorcized the naive posturing found on their first two records and found an original voice amid the rubble of punk, prog, and folk. An odd mix, sure, but the band delivered a bonified masterpiece just before they imploded and "Little Sister" is but one of this album's amazing tracks.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Dallas - Let's Split

Before blogs, bands still got hyped to death. Estonian band Dallas (big JR Ewing fans, I presume) racked up critical raves throughout 1999, including a spot in the Toronto Star's top ten albums of the year. But the band sat on their hands until 2003 and by then everyone was tired of Stereolab ripoff bands. Well, Dallas wasn't really a Stereolab ripoff, but they certainly drew from the same panoply of influences: jazz, lounge, pop, krautrock, etc. Still, their self-titled third album is a cutout bin surprise, with plenty of good songs and period touches like fuzz guitars, tambourines and canned strings.

Dallas formed in 1992, one year after Estonia gained independence from the Soviet Union. They released a few singles, an EP, and two albums before signing to American label High Park records to release the much lauded Dallas. The primary songwriters were keyboardist/vocalist Holger Loodus and guitarist Tauno Pääslane, but others were involved, especially vocalist Kristi Kindel who can be heard on "Let's Split" and pretty much every other song on the album.

Click here to buy the album from CD Baby.

PS: This is NOT the band's website.