First thoughts on first listen:
Aden sounds an awful lot like Seam.
Thoughts after a few listens:
Aden sounds an awful lot like a POPPIER version of Seam.
Thoughts after many listens:
Something about this record keeps making me come back to it again and again… maybe it’s that they sound familiar, a bit like a poppier version of Seam, but with charms all their own… How come this record, Black Cow, came out in August of ‘99 and its now January 2000, and no one has told me about it before? Is everyone crazy, or slow, or what? Does the band not know the right people? This record, to frame it in appropriate terms, just rules. If I had started a band up yesterday, this is exactly the kind of thing I’d have been shooting for. Lyrics that are clever without being too cute or faux-arty obtuse; mid-to-up-tempo numbers with dueling clean, sharp guitars that remind me a little of the mellower side of Knapsack; unassuming but not unskilled vocals that somehow, in an osmosis, associative kind of way, remind me of Freedy Johnston; songs catchy enough to get stuck in your head three days since you last listened to the record, but not so sickening that you’re rushing to get them back OUT of your head.
About the Seam thing: Confirming my initial reactions, Aden thanks Seam mastermind Sooyoung Park in the liner notes (as it turns out, from the little I was able to dig up on the band, Aden’s first album came out on Park’s own label). But really, while Seam remains the most logical comparison point, and fans of that band are sure to be impressed by Black Cow, Aden succeeds here on their own merits, and when everything’s said and done may end up the better band.
This record would make my revised list of favorites of 1999 (if I were to revise it). With only 2 minor missteps (one of which, “Sadness”, is a cover), the album’s biggest fault is that at just over a half hour in length, it’s too short! Great independent rock records just seem to be pouring out of Washington DC lately, what with the latest Dismemberment Plan offering and Fugazi’s steady stream of quality recordings to name just a few, and now Aden’s Black Cow adds to the growing chorus. And still I get the feeling, somehow, that this is just a warm-up (a gut feeling, intangible), that their next effort could be the big one. Let’s hope more people notice next time.