PopMatters is moving to WordPress in December. We will continue to publish on this site as we work on the move. We aim to make it a seamless experience for readers.


Little Champions: Transactions & Replications

Ben Varkentine

Little Champions

Transactions & Replications

Label: Barsuk
US Release Date: 2001-04-03

It ain't for me, I guess is what I'm saying. Little Champion's new record, Transactions & Replications strikes me as a toothache of a record. Dull songs without structure sung flat and/or out of key/tune. There was almost nothing here that caught my ear, and what little that did didn't hold it. Their sound evokes thoughts that Little Champions are having a lot of fun playing together, but they have failed to convey that fun to this listener. Transparently simple, intrinsically tired "indie" rock that fails to deliver anything I want from pop songs.

Okay, look. I know that some people think music critics enjoy writing reviews like this, pissing all over some band who are probably perfectly nice, and have fans who truly enjoy their music as I do my faves. I'd just like to say for the record that nothing could be further from the truth, usually. I'd like nothing better than to say nothing at all if I can't say something nice, but I have this thing called an ethical obligation to review CDs my editor sends me. If you're a Little Champions fan or even a member of the band, obviously I'm not asking for your sympathy -- but please understand that none of the above (or what's to follow) is said with meanness or pleasure. Between you, me, and the lamppost I'm having to sweat to finish this review because once I've said I hated the album, there just isn't a lot to say to pad these things out to 400-plus words.

I could dutifully report that if you enjoy Quasi, Elliot Smith and the Go-Betweens, the press release suggests you might like Little Champions more than I do. I could say, honestly, that the album artwork is very nicely designed with simulated woodcuts and photos of the band who, again, look like perfectly nice people. But if I did that, you being the clever PopMatters readers that you are, you'd probably still suspect that I was killing myself trying to reach a minimum word count. And you'd be right.

I said earlier that Little Champions failed to deliver what I want from pop. And so what is that? Basically, one way or another, I want to revel in music. I want to be delighted. In some cases I just want to enjoy, in others, I want music to become a necessity to me, something that I can't imagine my life without. But here the headache-inducing drum patterns and stabs at hey-Mom-I've got-a keyboards, repetitious (so repetitious) guitar riffs, keyless vocals, and banal lyrics give me nothing to hang onto, evokes no sense of place or time.

There's nothing here, damn it. It's dead, Jim. Even in a couple of instances where the song starts out fine, something jarring is thrown into it and mucks it up. This album is so not for me as to redefine, "not for me". It may be for some, in fact it no doubt certainly is, but not for me.

Please Donate to Help Save PopMatters

PopMatters have been informed by our current technology provider that we have until December to move off their service. We are moving to WordPress and a new host, but we really need your help to fund the move and further development.





The 10 Best Horror Movie Remakes

The horror genre has produced some remake junk. In the case of these ten treats, the update delivers something definitive.


Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).


Magick Mountain Are Having a Party But Is the Audience Invited?

Garage rockers Magick Mountain debut with Weird Feelings, an album big on fuzz but light on hooks.


Aalok Bala Revels in Nature and Contradiction on EP 'Sacred Mirror'

Electronic musician Aalok Bala knows the night is not a simple mirror, "silver and exact"; it phases and echoes back, alive, sacred.


Clipping Take a Stab at Horrorcore with the Fiery 'Visions of Bodies Being Burned'

Clipping's latest album, Visions of Bodies Being Burned, is a terrifying, razor-sharp sequel to their previous ode to the horror film genre.


Call Super's New LP Is a Digital Biosphere of Insectoid and Otherworldly Sounds

Call Super's Every Mouth Teeth Missing is like its own digital biosphere, rife with the sounds of the forest and the sounds of the studio alike.


Laura Veirs Talks to Herself on 'My Echo'

The thematic connections between these 10 Laura Veirs songs and our current situation are somewhat coincidental, or maybe just the result of kismet or karmic or something in the zeitgeist.


15 Classic Horror Films That Just Won't Die

Those lucky enough to be warped by these 15 classic horror films, now available on Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection and Kino Lorber, never got over them.


Sixteen Years Later Wayne Payne Follows Up His Debut

Waylon Payne details a journey from addiction to redemption on Blue Eyes, The Harlot, The Queer, The Pusher & Me, his first album since his 2004 debut.


Every Song on the Phoenix Foundation's 'Friend Ship' Is a Stand-Out

Friend Ship is the Phoenix Foundation's most personal work and also their most engaging since their 2010 classic, Buffalo.


Kevin Morby Gets Back to Basics on 'Sundowner'

On Sundowner, Kevin Morby sings of valleys, broken stars, pale nights, and the midwestern American sun. Most of the time, he's alone with his guitar and a haunting mellotron.


Lydia Loveless Creates Her Most Personal Album with 'Daughter'

Given the turmoil of the era, you might expect Lydia Loveless to lean into the anger, amplifying the electric guitar side of her cowpunk. Instead, she created a personal record with a full range of moods, still full of her typical wit.


Flowers for Hermes: An Interview with Performing Activist André De Shields

From creating the title role in The Wiz to winning an Emmy for Ain't Misbehavin', André De Shields reflects on his roles in more than four decades of iconic musicals, including the GRAMMY and Tony Award-winning Hadestown.


The 13 Greatest Horror Directors of All Time

In honor of Halloween, here are 13 fascinating fright mavens who've made scary movies that much more meaningful.


British Jazz and Soul Artists Interpret the Classics on '​Blue Note Re:imagined'

Blue Note Re:imagined provides an entrance for new audiences to hear what's going on in British jazz today as well as to go back to the past and enjoy old glories.


Bill Murray and Rashida Jones Add Another Shot to 'On the Rocks'

Sofia Coppola's domestic malaise comedy On the Rocks doesn't drown in its sorrows -- it simply pours another round, to which we raise our glass.


​Patrick Cowley Remade Funk and Disco on 'Some Funkettes'

Patrick Cowley's Some Funkettes sports instrumental renditions from between 1975-1977 of songs previously made popular by Donna Summer, Herbie Hancock, the Temptations, and others.


The Top 10 Definitive Breakup Albums

When you feel bombarded with overpriced consumerism disguised as love, here are ten albums that look at love's hangover.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.