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4.0 out of 5 stars Under-rated collaboration between Eitzel & Buck, 27 Aug. 2001
By 
Jason Parkes (Worcester, UK) - See all my reviews
(No. 1 Hall OF FAME REVIEWER)   
This review is from: West (Audio CD)
This was written & recorded over a few days in 1996- Eiztel was following up his solo classic '60 Watt Silver Lining' & Buck was coming off the epic 'Monster'-tour- and it's live follow-up, 'New Adventures in Hi-Fi'. Bringing musicians from both REM & Tuatura projects, 'West' is as much a treat in a musician sense as '60 Watt' (and possibly why 'The Invisible Man' sounds a bit odd- The Magnetic Fields/Russian Futurists style does not fit Eitzel. It's practical though...)
'If you have to Ask' has a wonderful string arrangement by Bruce Kaphan & Eitzel- keeping that AMC connection (please reform!Or at least reissue the first 4 albums!!)alive...'Free of Harm' sounds very 'New Adventures' (which is unsuprising); while 'Helium' is a darker acoustic song- showcasing Eitzel's on-going obssession with John Denver!...'Stunned & Frozen' is the best track on the album- accordion shimmies close to 'You are Everything' or 'Find the River'. Add to this great percussion by Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees/'Up'/'Rated R'/'I'll Take Care of You') and you have a dreamy song- in which the rain has passed over, albeit temporarily. Charmingly Eitzel tells us "I'm a pearl diver/tell all the cops I was looking for pearls in the river".This is as good as any song he's sung- up there with 'Sacred Heart', 'Anything', 'The Horror', 'Over & Done', 'I Broke My Promise' etc...'Then it Really Happens' sounds very much like the latest REM ('Reveal') , a distant cousin of 'She Just Wants to Be'or 'Beat a Drum'. Very 'Subterraneans'...'In Your Life' is an upbeat number- sounding like 'Imitation of Life', with a reference to 'Return to Sender'. He really means it too!!!...'Lower Eastside Tourist' sounds like a try-out for 'Diminished' on 'Up'; '3 Inches of Wall' is better- taking in isolation with a perky organ backing...'Move Myself Ahead' is another rocking slab of babble from Eitzel, recalling a rollercoaster he couldn't ride with friends (a metaphor for something?).'Old Photographs' sounds like a cross between 'Dallas...Airport..Bodybags' & 'Country Feedback' (with a hint of 'Gary's Song' or 'Hairshirt')...'Fresh Screwdriver' is slightly less miserable, featuring Pearl Jam's Mike McReady (excellent on 'Dying Days' by Screaming Trees); this sounds very 'Strawberry Fields...'. Lyrically, it sounds like an excerpt from a Denis Johnson novel. 'Live or Die', the only song not written by Eitzel/Buck, is one of those miserable goodbye's- like 'Will You Find Me?', 'I'll be Gone' & 'Jesus Hands': "No-one cares/no-one cares/if I live or die"- we're sadly informed- as a sax wail gives us some jazzy lows. And Mark Lanegan sounds like a happy-chappie...
An under-rated collaboration, as good as the last two AMC LP's- and better than 'Caught in a Trap...' which just wasn't happening. Fans of REM from 'New Adventures' to 'Reveal' may find lots here. Alternately, Elvis Costello fans who can't be bothered to buy his latest set of re-reissues, get this record and anything else by Eitzel/American Music Club...
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West
West by Mark Eitzel (Audio CD - 1997)
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