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4.0 out of 5 stars
Soft Pack
Format: Audio CD|Change
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 8 February 2010
Perhaps calling your band the Muslims wasn't a wise starting point for any band hence the this post punk outfit from San Diego on the US West Coast have changed there name to Soft Pack and had some American music mags salivating over the prospect of this albums release. Drowned in Sound amazingly gave this magnum hopeless 8 out of 10 for an album that has as much backbone as a chocolate eclair.

Sadly this is only a 2 star since I boosted it by extending the milk of human kindness. Do not get me wrong there is always a place for a good, loud and thrashy melodic punk band but in this case you can almost recognize the riffs and melodies lifted from other bands. Similarly singer Matt Lamkin is the Rory Bremmer of rock since is vocal sometimes sounds so much like Jonathan Richman I was expecting him to break into Roadrunner at any point.

If you were to get out your Ramones albums, dust down the Buzzcocks and throw in the Wombats and the Fall then you have Soft Pack. Other bands of course do this including current faves the The Drums. But where the latter are infectious, invigorating and add nice new twists, Soft pack stick to formula with entirely predictable results. "Answer to yourself" is essentially the Wombats "Moving to New York" but is not as good. "Parasites" is the best song on the album but the royalties should be paid to the Velvets. "Flammable" sounds like the Fall except Mark E Smith is a genius and this lot are not. Finally do we really need another song with the title "C'mon"? This kind of tiresome college rock essentially proves that West is not best when it comes to new American bands with the really exciting and innovative music coming from the East coast(with a few exceptions). All in all an album that might have struggled to make the John Peel show 20 years ago. I have a soft spot for this band but sadly its the swamp at the bottom of my garden.
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on 9 March 2010
Bought this on a whim and love it. My favorite album of the year so far. As another reviewer said you can hear the influence of different bands on every song but I quite like that. For me very like the good early Lemonheads stuff. Well worth a punt.
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on 9 February 2010
Hype is a strange beast. No doubt it rises the profile, and in turn it piques interest in the music-appreciating community. Myspace hits rise, early singles receive play and small corners of the Internet duly coo. However, as the profile rises so does expectation. Such is the nature of hype.

At this critical juncture, it pays to have more than the one or two tracks that brought the hype beast sniffing. Without them, or a sufficiently interesting story to buy time, a band can start to flounder even before an album release is made. The Soft Pack initially plumped for the latter.

As it is near inescapable to discover, they used to be called The Muslims. Due to "ignorant and racist" comments a name change was made. As it turns out, as a name The Muslims, a much ballsier name let's face it, might have brought more hype through obvious controversiality. Either way, The Soft Pack, perhaps recognising their potential undoing by the machine, chose a different path.

Their college-cum-garage-rock is remarkably smooth when their contemporaries, particularly those from their native San Diego (see Christmas Island) and neighbouring cities, are all bathed in a sea of lo-fi production methods. Although Matt Lamkin's vocal in truth lacks punch or sufficient drawl, it bobs along happily in identifiable Jonathan Richman-country nevertheless.

The Soft Pack appear a balancing act, better than the never-rans (The Virgins), but not as good as Pavement and The Strokes whose middle ground they seem to frequently covet. This said, it's quite refreshing to also have REM's early college-rock unearthed afresh on the machine-gun delivery of "Down On Loving". The manic organ of the breathless "Move Along" further adds welcome kudos. The songcraft on offer is warmly familiar throughout. There's no genre bending here, but what is present is almost flawless.

The third track on this self-titled offering, "Answer To Yourself", states that "... you're more talented that you know". When this brutally honest mirror is held up to unoriginal ethos of The Soft Pack, their edifying mantra starts to look untrue. However, by the same extension, The Soft Pack deserve credit. Landing this largely credible release amid the damaging maelstrom of a tidal wave of hype must have taken talent, and in parts it more than shines through.
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on 13 August 2010
This appears very much to be The Modern Lovers (The Modern Lovers) for the 2010s. Which is alright because the Modern Lovers are no more, and the kids of now have no chance whatsoever to come across a time machine in order for them to experience a gig by The Modern Lovers first hand (and though not a kid myself, I never saw them live either). The Modern Lovers were themselves very much influenced by The Velvet Underground (The Velvet Underground and Nico), adding a garage-y sound and the wits of Jonathan Richman to become a legendary band in their own right. With The Soft Pack, formerly The Muslims (The Muslims [VINYL]), we have a nice little band and two fine garage-y, lo-fi rock albums but ultimately they fail to add anything of real substance to the template. Previous bands, such as, say The Pooh Sticks (The Great White Wonder) - let alone The Strokes -, succeeded better on that point. But, now who remembers about The Pooh Sticks?
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on 24 December 2010
If this were 2001, The Soft Pack would be huge. In an age where rock bands play second fiddle to electronic music on Hipster's ipods however, hype annointing the band as the new Strokes/Franz seems to have been met largely with indifference.

Rocking album though. A quick 30 minute hit of garage rock goodness; short, sharp and sweet.

The three chords and a bad attitude formula has obvious echoes of debuts by The Ramones, The Stooges and Wire; and The Soft Pack's own has a similar purity to those records. Alongside the punk aggression, there's a bookish outsider quality that makes the band seem true succesors to those above named groups, and other weirdos like Devo and The Velvet Underground. As opposed to someone like the Strokes, those popular, handsome rich kids who think a sneer and a leather jacket make you Lou Reed. Here's a band we freaks and geeks can truly embrace.
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on 26 March 2010
In just over half an hour you get a great album from a band who have found their feet. Fast paced indie rock, big hope for the future.
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on 20 May 2010
Cheering me up from the get-go isn't a bad route to currying favour, so the fact that 'The Soft Pack' bursts into life with a throwaway guitar chord and a relentless hi-hat hardly hinders its prospects for a positive review. Whilst nothing else quite touches opener `C'mon' for pitch-perfect honing of Replacement-esque recklessness, plenty (`Answer To Yourself', `Move Along') come close, as a breakneck half hour of breathless bliss surfs its way to crest of 2010's garage-rock wave. Released in June and it would've been the sound of the Summer - a joyfully lively, well-crafted and coherent effort.

Choice Cuts: `C'mon', `Answer To Yourself', `Move Along', `More or Less'
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on 7 February 2010

peruvian journalist,cyber dj/radio producer & host
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