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CD of The Week

Week of 5/24/21

    Remember Sports - Like A Stone (Father/Daughter))

    In the absence of touring, many bands have had to continue their productivity by performing for themselves, with only the equivalent of a mirror for feedback. Where a crowd’s reaction energizes and enhances a band’s performance in a cyclical, recharging fashion, a reflection only offers introspective analysis. Remember Sports’ new album, Like A Stone, is a discussion and critique of the self and choices that have led to the present. In their press release, singer Carmen Perry explains, “The hard songs are guilt and anger coming out of me, and the soft songs are forgiveness.”

    For a group that has historically recorded as a fast-paced, driving “basement rock band,” the soft songs are a bit of a departure- or actually- a growth. What started as a college band in Ohio, not sure if they were going to survive past their debut, the then-named Sports survived and flourished by adjusting the line-up, adding ‘Remember’ to their name, and moving to Philly for their third record, 2018’s Slow Buzz. While this fourth album has throwbacks to their classic fuzzy, messy-punk style, like the three-chord “Falling Awake” and driving mid-tempo garage rock of “Pinky Ring,” many of the songs employ elements of country and slow the pace down quite a bit. The thing is, they do it very well. Carmen’s voice has always had a twangy, whiny affect, like a ball rattling around the rim before dropping through; but here it shines. It becomes the perfect delivery device for soft-spoken, down-to-earth, reflections in country ballads like “Odds Are” and “Materialistic.”

    Perhaps the best showcase of their new sound, like an amalgam of Thin Lips and Waxahatchee, can be found in their clean-up positioned track, “Easy.” It starts as a rollicking fast song that would fit right into the CrutchfieldsPS Elliot catalog. But then it drastically switch-hits halfway through, becoming a lyric-focused, tambourine- and bass-driven thought piece. The at-the-end-of-the-rope lyric “Do something right, just do ANYTHING right” begs for life to have had some purposeful meaning - a thought we’ve all probably had during the pandemic; when unlimited time to be productive seemed to slip away. This sentiment is repeated in "Clock," where the moody, Belly-like song cries “I’m not taking things too well / Make something good, just spit it out / just sit here ‘til the clock runs out.”

    The trick to surviving these bouts of introspective downward spiraling feelings is allowing others into your life and to become bigger than the parts. It seems this has helped carry the band through the worst of times, as all have contributed to the album, working on the same creative wavelength. So as you listen to Like A Stone, even if bassist Catherine Dwyer wrote the choppy, rockabilly “Flossing Dickie,” and guitarist Jack Washburn composed the criminally short “Coffee Machine,” revel in knowing that they worked as a team to build the perfect line-up in order to survive day by day.
    Review by Shepard Ritzen

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