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golden street
The Minders
Golden Street

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It has always annoyed me when bands fail to list the names of their album's songs on the back, or even the front, of the CD case. Why? It never fails: you're rocking out to a killer tune, you flip the case over to see what it's called and you get a big fat nothing. This can be especially troubling if you happen to be driving at the time and do not possess the faculties to actually open the case to find out the name of the bloody song. I only mention this because, as it happens, Golden Street falls into this most annoying of categories. Fortunately, its packaging is one of its few weaknesses.

Here, at last, is the official follow-up to the Minders’ 1998 debut, Hooray for Tuesday (the singles collection Cul-de-Sacs and Dead Ends filled the interim). In the three years since their debut, the Portland-based trio has matured in both songwriting and arrangement. While their debut reveled in jangly, Kinksian glory, Golden Street finds the group eager to stretch their musical canvas, adding keyboards, television dials, harpsichords and saxophones into their already eclectic mix.

The first three songs on Golden Street make it clear that this will be a treasure trove of pop goodies. For starters there's the lushly orchestrated title track, which marries a lilting piano line with soaring melodies and Martyn Leaper’s positively McCartney-esque croon. "Light"'s aquatic dissonance and spiraling harpsichords find the band tipping their Technicolored cap to labelmates The Apples in Stereo and their pioneering brand of psychedelic pop. Third offering "Treehouse" is an acoustic campfire-style tune that certainly wouldn’t be out of place on a Fairport Convention tribute album.

The remaining ten songs find the band touching all possible points on the musical map. On this exciting trip you’ll discover fuzz-laden garage rockers ("Hand on Heart" and "Right as Rain"), fervent blasts of gushing harmonies, majestic brass and layered keyboards ("Give me Strength"), sultry, female crooning ("Sleeping Through Everything") and a trance-inducing burst of toytown psychedelica ("Nice Day For It"). Throughout the album The Minders prove themselves to be musical jacks-of-all-trades, weaving effortlessly between genres and decades.

Thanks to Golden Street, The Minders may not be the Elephant 6's best kept secrets for much longer. With tunes this good, I can even forgive the band's failure to print song titles on the back of the album.

-- Jason Jackowiak
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