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The Up-Turn

@TheUpTurnMusic /

The first album review in our Spring series of album reviews come from Milwaukee’s Sat. Nite Duets.  This is the groups first full-length album after a string of great EPs that established the band as one of the best indie-rock groups to keep an eye on.  The album finds the group making some great, lighthearted tunes that only a group like Sat. Nite Duets could pull off.  Read the full album review after the jump and as always Peace be to You.

There is something instantly appealing about musicians who don’t take themselves too seriously.  In the world of blogs and buzz bands it is easy for artists to get caught up in heavy concepts and novelty while neglecting the actual music itself, so it’s nice to have some musicians who are willing to look at themselves as musicians first and cult-inspiring, soul-transcending geniuses second.  Milwaukee’s Sat. Nite Duets find themselves happily on the side of carefree musicians who are able to find humor in music (a topic discussed during my interview with them last summer).

Although it’s a comparison that has probably been brought up in almost every article written about Sat. Nite Duets, it’s still important to mention the band’s clear reverence for Pavement.  Just like Pavement was in the 90s, Sat. Nite Duets aren’t part of any musical movement or fad that would seem attractive to the “trendsetting” blogosphere.  Both bands play music that sounds just as lazy and sloppy as it does brilliant.  Their music focuses namely on what they know: hanging out, having a good time and the not always successful pursuit for girls.  Sat. Nite Duets are a group of friends who happened to start making music together and stumbled upon a fantastic sound.

Summer of Punishment is the group’s most organized and coherent release to date with 12 songs clocking in at just under 40-minutes.  Although it is clear that the guys spent a lot of time on the album, it hasn’t lost any of the “accidental genius” that made their earlier releases so great in the first place.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the hook to ‘Genghis Khan’ was written in a spontaneous moment of laughter: “Genghis Khan hits the 10-foot bong on your mom’s back lawn and you know something’s wrong.” Sat. Nite Duets’ greatest strength may stem from their ability to convey effortlessness in their writing process.  Nothing here sounds labored over, meticulously planned or over produced.  It sounds like these could be tape recordings of various jams the guys pumped out over the course of their summer.

Of course that intimate and spontaneous vibe doesn’t mean that the songs aren’t well written or intricate.  ‘Don’t You Love Me, Baby?’ (a track they put out a few years ago as Handprints) may have some of the best love lyrics I have ever heard with the memorable chorus, “and the girls pretend to laugh as I croon, don’t you love me, baby?” ‘Andy’s Going to Heaven’ is as perfectly entertaining as it sounds and ‘Collegiate Metal Freak’ has a great Titus Andronicus’ Monitor type sound.  Although as instrumentalists these guys aren’t about to blow anyone away, they manage to play music that distracts from their weaknesses and amplifies their strengths of personality.  Even my least favorite tracks, ‘WWDD’ and the first single ‘Way Behind My Age Group’, have enough of that undeniable Sat. Nite Duets’ charm to keep them from tainting the album.

At the end of the day, we all need this kind of music.  In a blogosphere of minimal-juke-core and ambient-chip-house artists it’s nice to listen to a group of friends making music together the only way they can and doing a good job at it too.  It’s music that’s not going to change your life, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.  All time peace.


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