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Extra Blue Kind
The Tide And The Undertow
Opulent Records

I was hoping The Tide And The Undertow had special, magical properties. It had taken me forever to write this review because I listened to the CD for about two months and was never really blown away. Last night, after having avoided the album and my guilt for a week or so, I popped the CD back into the stereo for one last listen before writing the review. I hoped against hope that something would jump out at me, I would suddenly love it, and I could sell it to you here like snake oil from the back of my covered wagon. Well, the fuel of a couple of drinks definitely made it better than I had remembered, and there are two or three really excellent songs in there, but unfortunately I didn't have a significant change of heart.

Extra Blue Kind is a bunch of young guys out of Indianapolis, and their website (before it was apparently hacked by an Iranian kid with mischief on his mind) makes much of their struggle to be intense and independent, yet "fiercely accessible," all while enjoying the popularity gleaned from winning some "battle of the bands" competition on a local radio station. To their credit, they do a pretty good job of that. Their music is indeed poppy enough to make it accessible, but still has enough indie sensibility to attract a more discerning audience. EBK claim their influences to be The Pixies, The Cure and Dave Grohl, among others, which would also support the previous mix of adjectives, although nothing on The Tide And The Undertow reminded me of any of them.

My problem with The Tide And The Undertow is that it isn't cohesive enough to take me through to the end of the album. The record starts out on a radio-friendly note with the poppy "Make Yourself Useless", then ambles into "You Came Crashing", a song that is half terrific and half really not. It sounds like the band decided to combine two completely separate songs that weren't meant to be played together. A beatnik intro brings us my favorite song on the album (behind half of "You Came Crashing"), "Out Of My Hands." This is a pleasantly, slightly heavy one; good for speeding. "Art Of The Disconnect" has some of that same beatnik sound from "Yoko NoNo," but also sounds as contrived as some of Yoko's own, breathy attempts at music. All of a sudden the album swerves into different territory, when I do believe that the formerly alive Michael Hutchence starts singing on both "Lipstick" and "Holiday." But when the INXS romp of "Lipstick" all of a sudden turns into Billy Corgan screaming at the end, only to be followed directly by the quiet, drumroll-laden, indie crooner "Trails Turn," I'm done. I can barely lift my head during "Our Only Appeal" to think that it sounds more than a little like the song that played over the credits in Nadja, that artsy-fartsy vampire movie from the nineties. I can never remember who that was, but I loved that song and I don't love this one.

The band is currently touring this album, and despite my less-than-enthusiastic review, these guys do have something that is worth listening to. If you have the chance to catch a show, I would recommend seeing for yourself whether you might like all, or even one, of their styles.

-Heidi Lamer

Track Listing:
1. Make Yourself Useless
2. You Came Crashing
3. Yoko NoNo
4. Out Of My Hands
5. Art Of The Disconnect
6. Lipstick
7. Trails Turn
8. Our Only Appeal
9. Atmosphere
10. Holiday
11. Keep Me Around
12. Pinch, Blink, Stay Alive
13. Sugar

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