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The Martinis
Distracted Records

The Pixies meant a lot of things to a lot of different people... and with their demise in the nineties we all screamed at what was lost, but as Kim Deal and Frank Black (or whatever he calls himself nowadays) came out with new bands we hoped the end wasn't in vain. Whether it was or not, I'm not going to argue, rather than say that what was the Pixies is now gone. Let's hope they can capture it again as they get back together. But while we wait for a new record I have the answer to a question that was on my mind for the last decade: What ever happened to Joey Santiago?

In my book Santiago's guitar work with that band rivals some of the greats. Not because he is some sort of guitar-god, but because he worked so well with what the others brought to the table. At times he was a solid backbone for the band, and at others he was adding an insanely simple yet catchy line as icing to the cake. It is for his lead guitar work that I most remember him, and especially on Bossanova, there were some beyond beautiful moments, compliments of him. And out of all the members of the Pixies, I always wanted to hear a follow-up from him, and now I have it in the form of The Martinis.

With the Martinis, Santiago is back at his old tricks, with the addition of songwriter/singer Linda Mallari. His distinctive sound is present, and once I heard it I was overcome with a wave of nostalgia remembering "back in the day". Every song on this album bears his unique stamp - and is good by virtue of it - but looking beyond just his contribution, it falls short. There is nothing inherently wrong with Mallari's songwriting, all the basic elements for a successful song are here, but there is just something missing. What it needs is just that extra something to carry it beyond the humdrum and into the memorable.

Santiago does everything and more to push it in that direction, but there is only so much he can do. His guitar shifts with the songs, creating new and different feels for each track, but Mallari's voice draws it back to a common theme, so that it is hard to stray into undiscovered country. If anything, her songwriting lends itself to pop-radio territory, which pulls Santiago more into the mainstream. I don't mean to be so sour, there are some excellent songs on this album; "Flyer" nods a little into Kim Deal-esque vocals, "Right Behind You" has some awesome guitar work, and "People in the World" has some nice hooks, but it was "Into the Meadow", a stripped down piano/vocals song, that captured my attention the most. With no Joey Santiago, no less!

Ultimately this will be "that other album Joey Santiago is on", and will get as much play in my CD player as Kim Deal's other, other band, The Amps (approximately once or twice a year). But definitely anytime I want to hear his guitar work it would more than adequately scratch that itch, because he is just that good.


Track Listing:

1. Flyer
2. Right Behind You
3. You Are the One
4. New Scene
5. Out Upon the Road
6. Wishful Thinking
7. Walls of Silence
8. Invisible
9. Big Three Wheeler
10. People in the World
Into the Meadow

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