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3.4 out of 5 stars42
3.4 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 21 March 2008
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I was a huge fan of American Music Club's last album, Love Songs for Patriots. Huge. It is their best album in my opinion, and seemed to cap years of good but not great records with a classic: the apotheosis of their developing art.

So, obviously, I was looking forward to The Golden Age as something to take the greatest just a hint further: a shimmering flag planted on their Everest.

I know what you're thinking. Possibly I was hoping for too much. Well, possibly. I was a bit disappointed at first. There's nothing on The Golden Age of the instant impact of 'Another Morning', from the last album, and after a few listens I hadn't been transported in the way I'd hoped. But music is so often a product of its environment and, late one night, I heard one of the songs on a radio show late into the evening. It was dark and atmospheric outside, and in among the 80s revival indie pop that's dancing around in neon neoprene at the moment, hearing American Music club was a refined, blissful relief. Like a glass of scotch after a hard day's private eyeing.

And so, going back to the album, with a new, refreshed perspective, I can say I've come if not to love it in the way I love Love Songs for Patriots, at least come to realise how good it is.

It's a classic sounding record, confidently recorded. If you like a bit of Ryan Adams (and I do) but wouldn't mind him with the e numbers taken out, then you should like this. It's slightly careworn, slightly ravaged, but poised and dignified. A broken man staring at death, but putting on a suit nevertheless.
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VINE VOICEon 6 January 2008
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are a monthly reader of UNCUT magazine, then you've probably already heard of American Music Club and I can tell you to forget the review and just buy the album. You won't be disappointed.

If you're not as familiar with AMC let me try to give you an idea of what to expect. They were every bit as influencial on the Americana scene of the last 20 years as the Band, CSNY or Willie Nelson were in the previous 20 years. The difference is that not as many people have heard of American Music Club or its founder Mark Eitzel.

However, if you've ever listened to an album by Wilco, Lambchop, Richmond Fontaine and any number of singer-songwriters (Josh Rouse, Ryan Adams, Shawn Colvin, Lucinda Williams) you can clearly hear the stamp of AMC in both the bottom-of-a-bottle lyrics and the lush atmospheric production. There is even some evidence that artists this side of the Atlantic like Ed Harcourt have taken notice.

Eitzel has a well documented history of alcoholism (directly leading to the band's break up between 94 - 04) which not only colours his voice with broken tones and gentle, ravaged emotion but also bleeds through his lyrics. 2004's 'Love songs for Patriots' contained stellar tracks such as 'Another morning' which was potentially one of the songs of the year and heralded a smoother, more sustainable approach to songwriting than the earlier records had shown. Now with a totally new line up, Eitzel is building on the sound.

Standout tracks are opener 'All My Love', a juxtaposition of good intent and expectation of loss. Truly the saddest kind of love song. This is also a scene setter for the rest of the album and other great tracks like 'The Dance' and 'The Windows of the world'.

This is modernist Americana - you won't find a mandolin or a dobro here - but you will find songs of the lost and lonely, the losers and the triers, the broken and the bruised.

All in all a very good album with few filler tunes, that promises for a very chilled but very solemn live set. Worth a listen if your bent runs to quality song writing and imperfect, soulful voices against a backdrop of big acoustic sound.
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VINE VOICEon 18 January 2008
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I find myself in agreement with many of the earlier reviewers, in that the album starts well but then, just as your expectations are soaring, it fails to ignite. Ultimately you find yourself admiring the craftsmanship that has produced the work but it fails to evoke a strong response of any kind.

There is something, however, I would like to take issue with: The number of reviews that use comments like, 'I'm sure fans of the band will love this' and so on. Well I don't consider myself a 'fan of the band' but I do have nearly all their albums and consider "California" to be, not just a 'great lost classic', but one of the best albums recorded in the last 20 years. I object to the idea that this will make me MORE tolerant of lower quality output. If anything the reverse is true.

I read an a comment somewhere recently that has stuck with me 'avoid any album referred to as "a return to form" when applied to a once great artist who has produced little of worth for many years'. There are actually plenty of exceptions to this rule so I'll keep testing its validity but this, sadly, is not one.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are a fan of earlier American Music Club offerings then you will, most likely, really enjoy The Golden Age. If this is your first experience with the band then you may wonder what all the fuss is about, and you're probably better off trying one of their earlier cds instead.
The Golden Age is a subtle, understated, sneaky kind of cd - it doesn't knock you down with outrage or anguish, or any particularly catchy melodies. Instead it murmurs insidious suggestions that all is not quite right, offering occasional discord in place of shouted aggression.
The music superficially feels very laid back, semi-country. It's been compared to (early) Eagles and (early) Fleetwood Mac, but it's not got that commercial, catchy edge of the 1970s AOR bands. Instead it blends downbeat poetry with featherlight guitar work; the insubstantial nature of the melody often at odds with the piercing message in the lyrics. The closer you listen to the words, the more you understand the comment on America's political situation - and frequently the pleasant tune masks an unpleasant truth.

If you've grown up with AMC then the Golden Age may well reflect your personal journey in life, and where you stand at the moment. If not, then you might struggle to find any relevance in the lyrics, and the gentle touch of the music is unlikely to set your soul on fire. It's very, very listenable - but not an album which reaches out and grabs you on its first play.
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on 7 March 2008
From initial indifference (hmm..not as good as Love Songs for Patriots) ...I now find myself listening to this more and more....and more. 'The Victory Choir' 'The Windows of the World' 'All the lost souls', are amongst the best songs ive heard this year. Definitely one of those albums that rewards perseverance - its slow burning charms will glow throughout 2008
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VINE VOICEon 24 November 2009
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Golden Age appears to a be older and perhaps wiser record than what fans expect. The American Music Club of the 80s was like a celebration of the destructive nature of self medicating melancholic barstool philosophers who inhabit a world of their own making. That was over 20 years ago. Mark Eitzel seems to have changed his perspective this time preferring to rather stand outside the situation and look in while still being sympathetic toward his characters. The result is a position of recognition and not criticism. Vocally he appears more subdued, eradicating the frustration of his youth, but whether or not this is voice of a man beaten down by time is open to debate, I tend to think not. He may simply be a man now better able to recognise the misery of others as well as his own and would rather look for solutions than continue to engage with self pity. I think there are some real highlights on the record but this is a far more subdued record in comparison to the older material.
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on 8 February 2008
This is a lovely record. The melodies are beautiful, the lyrics are poetic and fascinating and the production is warm and accessible. It's unusual to find a record with this kind of surface beauty and such depth. There are obviously striking standouts("decibels and the little pills", "windows on the world", "all the lost souls","all my love", "who you are"), but delve deeper and you find the strange but gorgeous: "one step ahead", "the dance", "the stars"; and the exquisite: "sleeping beauty" and "the duchess of San Francisco." I don't think anyone is writing better songs than these at the moment, and this is my favourite record of the decade so far.
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on 26 January 2011
American Music Club - The Golden Age (Cooking Vinyl)
It's been awhile, but Mark Eitzel and American Music Club are back and it's like they've never been away. Extensive line-up changes might have brought about a stylistic rethink but they continue to play to their strengths, namely melodies and harmonies that hark back to the `70s West Coast scene and Eitzel's way with melancholy.

It's a good record, and one which might be played extensively as the seasons change and the sun comes out, but give it time. In a couple of years, when it's a fix of AMC you're after, it'll be "Everclear" from `91 or better still, 1993's "Mercury" you'll be pulling out the rack, the same as last year and the year before that. 7/10.
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on 23 February 2008
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I had not heard of AMC when I requested this CD for review and I confess they aren't my cup of tea...I suspect I was expecting something more country.... But I must admit even listening as an outsider I can tell these guys are talented to a remarkable degree (although I confess the sound of fingers on guitar frets when artists are really close mic'ed irritates me)
The lyrics are clear and well enunciated; the percussion crisp and the performance overall excellent.
This stuff may not be for me but I can see why it may well be for thee...
There is undoubted skill here. Perhaps listen to a friends copy before buying?
I feel enriched by the experience of listening to this CD and I suspect you may be too.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
American Music Club has been a band I've long heard of, but seldom heard. The Golden Age changed all that. An album of beautifully constructed, stripped down, music that will seep through your heart.
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