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Evil Wiener, Evil Wiener Presents Billy Sugarfix's Lost Gumdrop Kingdom (Smith Level)
Though it might not have the widespread cachet of, say, Seattle, North Carolina has been the home of some mighty impressive music. Giving birth to The dB's and Mitch Easter would be enough to launch it into the stratosphere, but many more minor pleasures make it sound like a tiny jangle-pop outpost in the wilderness of bad music. Add to the list of minor pleasures Evil Wiener, whose sophomore effort, Evil Wiener Presents Billy Sugarfix's Lost Gumdrop Kingdom, does just fine for itself. It exists in tension between its quirkiness and its concision with a clean and pure sound courtesy of one of the great masters of all those things, Chris Stamey. Despite the boon of his production skills, Stamey's presence threatens to overshadow the proceedings, as much of Evil Wiener's work sounds like it could've been done much better by The dB's, especially in the vocal department. But seeing as how that outfit doesn't seem to be in a hurry to regroup, Evil Wiener makes a solid younger sibling to those dearly departed North Carolinians.