The Mendoza Line and The Burnside Project

SXSW Records

Phases and Stages

The Mendoza Line

If They Knew This Was the End (Bar/None)

The Burnside Project

The Networks, the Circuits, the Streams, the Harmonies (Bar/None) When they formed in 1996, the original lineup of the Mendoza Line endeavored to put together a killer debut -- this one -- but ended up scrapping it until now. Wandering between folksy, down-home acoustic finger-picking to fuzzy indie rock worthy of the most discriminating college radio deejay, the Brooklyn-based fivepiece tries a bit hard to emphasize the "Look! We're indie! We're folk! We're versatile" party line, which gets tiresome after a while. Yet the music also brushes up against the psychic nerve that triggers pangs of nebulous yearning and nostalgia, which is quite endearing. The playing is a bit rough around the edges at times, but it serves, along with the occasional imprecise harmonies, to add a playful, childish tone to tracks like "Molly, Please Stop Touching Me." The Burnside Project, a satellite endeavor for Mendoza Liners Shannon McArdle and Peter Hoffman, is decidedly more experimental and brings a more electronic sensibility into the mix. The tracks on this album are composed of the kinds of beats and samples you don't hear outside of hip-hop and Eighties dance music, which, surprisingly enough, avoids evoking a cloying, cheesy retro vibe and starts the neck a-bobbin'. This group, led by Richard Jankovich, is unwilling to play it safe, and the result is a collection of compelling, experimental, dance-oriented tracks that are sincere, highly polished, and completely irresistible. (Hideout, Friday, March 14, midnight)

(Both) ***

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