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The Trembling, Seduce the Government EP
The Birthday Machine, Direction and Destination 7"
The Patty Duke Fanzine #4, Patty's Favorite "Boy Bands"
(Top Quality Rock & Roll)
This CD is a three-for-one deal of forthcoming releases from the tiny Top Quality Rock & Roll label - an EP from Detroit's the Trembling, a "7" single" (in CD format) from Vancouver's the Birthday Machine, and a 6-song various artists sampler from Detroit-area zine The Patty Duke Fanzine. The Trembling provide short, sharp bursts of high-energy pop punk with strident (mainly) female vocals. "Dilapidate", a scathing but hopeful indictment of Detroit, is perhaps the most enjoyable track, but the whole thing is pretty solid stuff for this genre. The Birthday Machine's slow, dreampop songs fall at the softer end of the D.I.Y. spectrum. For three tracks, the female and male singers alternate plaintive vocals, while the band provide shimmery accompaniment that emulates Galaxie 500 with a fair degree of success. Unfortunately, "Closet Superhero", the fourth track, is a hollow-sounding dance remix that does them no favors. Patty's Favorite "Boy Bands" continues a tradition of the Patty Duke Fanzine: getting various indie artists to cover Patty Duke songs (or covers of covers Patty Duke did). It's a cute gimmick, and actually provides some intriguing tracks. The most well-known artist featured this time is Mark Robinson of Unrest, Air Miami, and Teenbeat Records moguldom fame. Robinson's mournful, minimalist cover of "Come Live With Me" lends the paper-thin source material gravitas that makes it unexpectedly compelling. The other tracks go the electronica route, generally interpreting musical arrangements as series of pops, whistles and static, making for amusing, if not particularly recognizable results. All in all, the three releases packed onto this CD don't have much in common besides their record label, but they do show that Top Quality Rock & Roll is up to some interesting things these days.
Christine Di Bella