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Chris Mars - Anonymous Botch
(Bar/None)

This all should really be prefaced with the fact that I really like Chris Mars. Seems like a pretty good guy. I look forward to the twisted humor of his fan club mailings which arrive every year or so. Ever since The Replacements broke up at the turn of the decade, Iíve eagerly looked forward to each new release from their former drummer, whose own songs never made it onto any of the bandís classic albums.

Which is why Anonymous Botch, his fourth album A.M. (After íMats) is so disheartening. Itís not so much the overly quirky, spooky arrangements of many of the tunes. Itís not the freak show subject matter, nor is it the fact that the tracks are numbered incorrectly on the back cover.

It starts with the fact that the album begins with two songs about cows. Most of the songs here get under your skin in much the same way as mad cow diseaseówhich, coincidentally, is the subject of the second song, "Sheep Spine Shimmy." Whoíd have thought a man at the forefront of the most vital American music scene of the last decade would be responsible for the closest thereís been to a sequel to Pink Floydís Animals in some time? A couple tunes, including the album-ending "Iíll Be Gone," do display Marsí skill at capturing the sort of í60s-influenced pop which there can never be enough of in the world. Still, itís not enough to compensate for limp songs and gimmicky production. "Pigs On The Wing" sounds frighteningly good in comparison.

YEAH YEAH YEAH, 1996