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Sunday, May 21, 2006
  mind me: The Minders
when you come into something late, it's hard to remember the importance of catching up on its history. but back in the day, when i first started diving into this indie hipster universe, it was instantly apparent that Elephant 6 was something i needed to know about.

Neutral Milk Hotel for those of you who need a little background, this story is the ultimate couple-swapping example relating to my Free Love post. regarding my immediate concern today, i don't really need to tell you much about Elephant 6. but if you'd like to know, there is an overwhelming wealth of information over at the official unofficial site of E6. but, essentially, Elephant 6 is a music collective started in the early nineties that championed a DIY ideal. the creation of the collective involves the three bands The Apples In Stereo (my personal introduction to E6), Neutral Milk Hotel, and now-defunct The Olivia Tremor Control. the bands of E6 now swap members and labels and founders and co-founders constantly, making the tracking of their involvement an arduous task.

my whole point involves a band that is considered a part of the whole collective. they formed in 1996, and are now releasing a new album on spinART this July.



The Minders is a gem band. i say this because one like it doesn't come by very often: they get everything right. on their latest It's A Bright Guilty World, they have an intro track ("There Goes My Formula!") so good that it will probably be used on every opening cut of my mix CDs from now until... well, until the next great find. "Don't You Stop", their single, is incredibly catchy in a way the big bands get you - The Shins, Nada Surf, The New Pornographers... well, just go to Sub Pop or Barsuk and see the machines at work. "Crest Of The Hill" is a perfect pop melody and one of my personal favorites, and who can tell me they don't sound exactly like a with-band Elliott Smith on tracks like "Saturday Morning." ( i suppose it helps they toured together in 2000.) to boot, there are a whole 14 tracks; when was the last time an indie label artist gave us more than 10? Modest Mouse, maybe? (...mm, exaggeration.)

the album also has one of those formulaic feels: "okay kids, the single has to be Track 2, we'll put the slower song here, the experimental ones should go near the back..." but i totally fall for it. it's pleasing. during the first run-through that i do while i'm not really paying attention, just for background noise, my attention was constantly called to the intricate melodies and mature range from folk rock to alt country to just plain indie pop. already a recipe for a favorite band in my opinion.

lastly, they end in one of my very favorite ways for bands to end an album. this is really an important thing for me - if, by the time i get to the end of your cd, i want nothing to do with your closer - you're taken down a whole slew of notches in my eyes. The Minders avoid this fall; "Guns of August" is absolutely fantastic, maybe one of the best tracks on the entire record. in his louder moments, the frontman sounds a little like A.C. Newman; the better, more grungy parts are much less big-pop and much more unfiltered ambient noise with a true-ringing bird song of guitar. oh, so good. so so good.

go to Harmonium to read another review and download two free mp3s (scroll all the way down). have fun. don't go too crazy.
 
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