Chick bassist, half-Japanese brothers on vocals and guitar, and a respectable man on the drums all of whom wear glasses - that's what Smallgang is comprised of and what they look like. As for what they sound like, that's a bit of a tricky position to be in as a writer. In the normal course of research (that is, finding out what label is putting out this thing and then taking a look at the band's site for five minutes) I don't like to taint my opinions too much if at all) the sidebars and results shouted the hallowed names of Pavement and Smog at me. Befuddled, I returned to the hazy motes of information to be found on news websites as the second song on their album Trespasses began. Maybe I'm just being hardheaded and obstinate, maybe I'm just extolling my own virtues of solemn peevishness, but I don't hear it, either the harkening back to the heights of classic Matadorians and Drag City residents or the hubbub that could cause the commotion. Once again the position is one that craves to cast off the unfulfilling feeling that grips as much as it creates thirsts for the hope that things could get better.

Two songs are wasted as openers as far as I'm concerned. 'Out Of Nothing' and 'Wrong Side' both attempt to draw in fully as most first tracks do, but instead they bore or irritate thanks to an uncanny combination of insipid takes on "indie rock" circa 1994 and the overbearing "we're being really fucking serious" air that has to be part of delivering these lyrics with any semblance of honesty. 'Cockpit' at least amuses with its doomsday storytelling, but fails to spare the listener with an early suicide as the pilot admits defeat over gravity. To break briefly, I find that a good judge of an album's merit and "valueâ" (in most genres) resides in the ability to hold attention under wide arrays of circumstances. By no means do I expect a classical composition to keep me entwined in its interplay while I'm mentally exhausting myself killing shit in Fallout, but I expect it to make me pay attention to the piece peripherally and (eventually) make me want to devote undivided attention. Using that set of outcomes as a basis, Smallgang passes this test with two of the eleven songs they present. 'Made In China' brims with angular guitars and enough forward motion to keep even the boringly worded chorus that can't seem resisting repetition of the title interesting. Meanwhile, the titular track is enough of a hideous clusterfuck that it grabs hold and then disturbs with its unevenness. Unfortunately, like my upstairs neighbour pounding away at unrelated chords with the fury of a thousand inept street musicians, the affair is mostly terrifyingly full of what could be called !bad music". Not bad in the sense of the non-committal to melody and structure (which can be damned to great effect), but bad in the sense that one never wants 'Trespasses' to darken the ear canals again.

I guess the correct conclusion is that this is a boring album more than a horrific crime against music. Banal and full of unchecked ambitions to be SM+Spiral Stairs? Check. Draped with a morose undertone that belies the upbeat playing thanks to lyrics that might as well be about shopping for watches? Hell yes. The sort of thing I'll play again in six to eight months to re-evaluate as any fair listener ought to do? Fuckin' a. Until that time, Trespasses sits on my property and pisses in my bushes, the sort of miscreant present in "OG indie" pastiche bands that make you wish Terror Twilight never came out so the doors would never be fully opened.

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