Music Review: North Elementary “Soft Couch Tremolo”

by Douglas Cowie on 12 September 2012

package imageNorth Elementary Soft Couch Tremolo Potluck Foundation


The terrible thing about this album is that it only lasts a little over seventeen minutes, and you really want it to go on for twice as long.  North Elementary often sounds like a big and ballsy hard rock band trying to sound like pop geniuses, or maybe pop geniuses trying to sound like a big and ballsy hard rock band; either way, the result is magical.  The lead guitar parts often sound like J Mascis on quaaludes, which I mean entirely as a compliment.  They also play big riffs that strut and swagger, but have such a friendly smile on their faces that you know they won’t piss in your beer unless you’re the sort of jerk who had it coming anyway.  Listen to “Every Good Aim”, the second song on the record: a nimble and pretty melody develops over 2:43 into a big crescendo that stops just a wee bit short of where you think it will head, avoiding a big dumb cliché payoff and dropping you back into that sweet melody before it ends.  Or what about “Battle the Fortress”?  Who the hell cares what it’s supposed to mean when that louche lead guitar, steady drumbeat, melodic and rambling baseline, burbling organ and vocal harmonies lead you into and then back out of a swaggery middle section, and then repeat the trick?  Does your devil wear slippers?  North Elementary’s does, and they like the party and the romance.  I’m sure the South and East and West Elementaries have real good kickball teams or whatever, but I know which school I’m backing in the battle of the bands.

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