Reviewed by Matt Dentler, Fri., April 23, 2004
FiveheadGuests of the Nation (Tight Spot) Noisy guitars crunch a bevy of late-Eighties/ early-Nineties rootsy post-punk on Fivehead's long-awaited new full-length, Guests of the Nation. The Austin-based quartet soars and shuffles with a musicianship that deftly matches one of the local scene's best independent acts. It's almost as if Uncle Tupelo and Hüsker Dü never broke up. While not always integrating their influences into their own sound, Guests of the Nation is nevertheless powerful pop inside rustic rhythms. You forgive their stolen moments, because they put them to good use. Even with their mesh of Television guitars and Wilco harmonies, songs such as "Can't Sleep" still get their hooks in you. With the Sonic Youth-on-Shiner Bock pedal steel ballad "Wallet Chain," Fivehead creates a soundscape all its own. "Hem and Haw" goes even further, using banjo and a simple choir to evoke a Southern mood and create a perfect tune for a night of drinking. The last few songs of the album feel hungover, actually, lending Guests of the Nation an endearingly exhausted feel. By the end of "Teen Sensation," Fivehead sounds out of breath. After all, you can only emulate college-rock greats with such conviction for so long.