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Perfect - When Squirrels Play Chicken
(Medium Cool/Restless)

Well, one of the ex-Replacements was going to come up this year with something worthy of that bandís glory, eventually. Leave it to Tommy. A seasoned veteran with the group well before he was of legal drinking age, perhaps itís no wonder heís the one with enough energy left to properly invoke their spirit.

Once past an opening guitar and drum attack with shades of a heavy metal sound, "Makes Me Happy" opens things with on amazingly up note considering that, since his last release, his older brother and ex-bandmate Bob died of lifestyle-related causes. This 20-minute EP with an unfortunate title and an even more unfortunate front cover continues with four more slices of original guitar rock which impressively express angst sans the melodrama 96 percent of all bands around today seem unable to avoid.

Tommy sounds like an American Johnny Rotten after a day off and a five-minute singing lesson, and thatís all the more reason to believe this band just might matter. Fans of Stinsonís last project, Bash And Pop, might miss the rootsy aspect of that bandís sound, but itís hardly an acceptable excuse to pass up a set that, despite its brevity, really is one of the most hook-laden releases of the year. A closing cover of "Crocodile Rock" wins the Best Hidden Bonus Track of the Year Award. Itís practically a hootenanny.

YEAH YEAH YEAH, 1996