ECONOLINE Breakfast Of Champions (Infur)
On its journey around the office, Econoline, and particularly vocalist/guitarist Ian Scanlon, were dismissed as second-rate Cure impersonators, but I think there's a little more to their music than that. The jagged, tumbling melodies that abound in "Breakfast Of Champions" make the press release's claims of Pavement and Built To Spill-league greatness look a little less hopefully exaggerated. Nevertheless the remaining two tracks on this single blur the distinctions, sounding more like generic, shouty, thrashy b-side fodder.
ECONOLINE I'm Plagued (Infur)
Another single's worth of not-much-copness from Econoline, still under the misguided impression that the music industry has an infinite capability to absorb records that sound a bit like, uh, Seafood, but not quite as, er, good. File under underwhelming indie guitar noise.
ECONOLINE Music Is Stupid (Infur)
ECONOLINE Full Tar (Infur)
It's with Econoline's debut album, "Music Is Stupid", that all their far-fetched press release comparisons with the likes of Built To Spill start to make some kind of scratchy, fragmented sense. Having the space to relax and spread their music out over 40 minutes, "Music Is Stupid" surprises with its occasional moments of budding potential. The lengthy instrumental introduction to "The C And The G" sounds like the entire City Slang roster at a lakeside barbecue jam session, summoning up the ghosts of the Chicago post-rock underground with just a few twinkling glockenspiel notes. But then the pace quickens and singer Ian Scanlon's thin shout makes its first appearance, and at this point the listener's reaction really could go either way. Colleagues who've borrowed Econoline CDs have without exception returned them complaining about Scanlon's painful, obvious Robert Smith affectations, and certainly on their previous singles that voice has overshadowed any merit that the band may or may not have to offer. But here the simple, unpretentious honesty of their music and the unvarnished, homespun philosophy of their lyrics wins out. "Music Is Stupid" might not be music for pleasure, but it's the first Econoline recording to suggest that they have moments of real, shining potential.
And then along comes their new single, "Full Tar", the second to be extracted from "Music Is Stupid", and the nagging suspicion that they'll never outrun the coattails of second-division indie bands such as Seafood blooms again. The main attraction is a short, sharp, polite, quiet-loud-quiet thing (is there a factory somewhere in the south-east dedicated entirely to churning out this kind of song?), "Goodbye Blue Monday" offers some gently unwinding ballad action and "The Flypast Is Go!" is a bedroom recording of another album song. Pretty thin gruel, all told.