Curve achieved modest acclaim in the early '90s with two secondhand shoegaze albums entitled Doppelganger and Cuckoo. That was supposed to be the end of the story. But the duo of Dean Garcia (guitars) and Toni Halliday (vocals) doesn't seem to know when to quit, as their latest and most inconsequential album hit shelves this past summer. Where does this album fit into the musical landscape of the new century, you might ask? Well, to be perfectly honest, nowhere, which is perhaps why it was released with nary a peep from Universal Records. Curve takes a stab at any and every rote style you can think of in the hope that something anything sticks. We get limp attempts to replicate Garbage's sound circa Version 2.0, even weaker efforts at NIN-agression on tracks like "Hell Above Water," and insipid retreads of past shoegaze glories, made all the more unforgivable by dragging perpetual waster Kevin Shields into the studio to lend some cred to the proceedings. Granted, it's better than a lot of the other stuff littering the popular music landscape by virtue of Curve's technical skill, but if this is all that remains of the shoegaze genre, maybe what it really needs is a mercy killing.
They Raging, Quiet Army
The Detachment Kit
We live in a city with a proud rock 'n' roll tradition, but over the past few years the well of talent has run horribly dry. If you discount the second-tier nu-metal bands like Disturbed and From Zero, no Chicago-bred band has made any sort of impact on the national charts, and the city's most innovative active groups including Wilco, Shellac, and Tortoise are entering the twilight of their careers. A once-vibrant scene has definitely suffered from a dearth of youthful energy. The Detachment Kit may be ready to fill the void. With song titles like "Sitting Still, Talking About Jets" and "Another Great Champion Sought, Thought, and Died," you might fear the worst: somnolent post-rock or, God forbid, emo. But The Detachment Kit prefers to reference the classics on their debut album, They Raging. Quiet Army, dashing their post-punk concoction with Pavement's ingratiating sloppiness and plenty of the Pixies' melodic fervor. And the conversational guitar theatrics frequently recall NYC art-punkers Les Savy Fav, which the band has cited as an influence. The Detachment Kit's sound might read like a list of hipster-approved influences, but they make it work primarily by keeping pretension to a bare minimum and allowing their enthusiasm for the material to shine through. In fact, things only start to fall apart when they get ponderous. Toward the album's finish, their confidence seems to erode and the hooks lose their punch. But by then, it's already become clear that The Detachment Kit has the raw ability to do something truly great.