REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
splendid > reviews > 4/6/2004
The Secret Machines
The Secret Machines
Now Here is Nowhere
Reprise


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Light's On"

Buy me now
Although The Secret Machines made a minor splash with their Brian Deck-produced September 000 EP, few would have guessed that they'd be snapped up by a major in such a hurry. While they are indeed finely-tuned progenitors of bygone psychedelic turbulence, they possess neither The Strokes' scene-baiting snottiness nor The Walkmen's golden FM transcendence. It's hard to imagine what a major label would do with the NYC trio.

If somebody can make southern-fried pop weirdos The Flaming Lips into international mega-stars, anything's possible, right? The powers that be certainly think so, and now have their sights set on turning Now Here is Nowhere into the soundtrack to a million hopeless Gen-X nights. Really, why not The Secret Machines? They're cute and cuddly in that "we're scruffy and pretending to be tough" Williamsburg way, and their checkered haze occasionally billows to the same flamboyant heights as the Lips' bombastic, pharmaceutically-derived pop squall. World-beating idols have been made of lesser beings, not to mention lesser musicians.

Now Here is Nowhere succeeds as much as it fails, due in large part to the fact that it tries desperately to burn its candle at both ends; unwieldy psychedelic dinosaurs like "First Wave Intact" and the title track hint that they're looking to become the new gods of bong-powered thunder -- but then they drop a bomb like the sleek, urbanely scoffing "Road Leads Where It's Led" and instantly re-cast themselves as black-clad top forty gatecrashers looking for a fast ticket to fortune and fame. Of course, the band's real spirit seems to lie somewhere between those two poles, and it's when the two paths diverge that they're at their most effective; the insistent strum-fuzz of "Sad and Lonely" drips interstellar sass, and the genteel piano melody of lilting torch-song "Pharoah's Daughter" is adorned with shadowy, backwards-loping guitars and muted percussive uprisings. It's a mighty fine line the Machines walk here, and while they occasionally trip over themselves ("Leave are Gone" is particularly unspectacular), it's hard to fault their ambition, especially when you consider that it flies in the face of rock's current penchant for eighties-derived minimalism.

The Secret Machines have found themselves in a fortunate position -- they're esoteric enough to engage the fickle underground crowd, but savvy enough to bury infectious melodies within their volcanic tempest.



REVIEWS:

12/31/2005:
Ladytron

Brian Cherney

Tomas Korber

UHF

The Rude Staircase

Dian Diaz

12/30/2005:
Helloween

PTI

The Crimes of Ambition

Karl Blau

Rosetta

Gary Noland

12/29/2005:
Tommy and The Terrors

Blacklisted

Bound Stems

Gary Noland

Carlo Actis Dato and Baldo Martinez

Quatuor Bozzoni

12/28/2005:
The Positions

Comet Gain

Breadfoot featuring Anna Phoebe

Secret Mommy

The Advantage

For a Decade of Sin: 11 Years of Bloodshot Records

12/27/2005:
The Slow Poisoner

Alan Sondheim & Ritual All 770

Davenport

Beaumont

Five Corners Jazz Quintet

Cameron McGill

Drunk With Joy

12/26/2005:
10 Ft. Ganja Plant

The Hospitals

Ross Beach

Big Star

The Goslings

Lair of the Minotaur

Koji Asano



Splendid looks great in Firefox. See for yourself.
Get Firefox!


FEATURES:
Grizzly Bear's Ed Droste probably didn't even know that he'd be the subject of Jennifer Kelly's final Splendid interview... but he is!



DEPARTMENTS:
That Damn List Thing
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo
Bookshelf
Pointless Questions
File Under
Pointless Questions
& - The World Beyond Your Stereo


ARCHIVE:
Read reviews from the last 30, 60, 90 or 120 days, or search our review archive.

It's back! Splendid's daily e-mail update will keep you up to date on our latest reviews and articles. Subscribe now!
Your e-mail address:    
REVIEWS | FEATURES | DEPARTMENTS | BOOMBOX | PODCAST | MISC
SEARCH:
All content ©1996 - 2011 Splendid WebMedia. Content may not be reproduced without the publisher's permission.