Album Review

Rough Frames EP

Rough Frames EP

by Art Museums


Woodsist
7.5 / 10
20th August 2010

Reviewed by Paul Gallagher


Despite their apparently relaxed psychedelic San Francisco pop jaunt, there's a brutal honesty to Art Museums that I can't help but appreciate. Born from the efforts of Josh Alper (Whysp) and Glenn Donaldson (Skygreen Leopards), Art Museums is one part post-punk ethos two part ribald social commentary and an overall knack for lo-fi quality sound. Lyrically, the Bay Area duo tend to accost and even make mockery of elements of the common 'cool', the modern life - with art school poseurs and twee lovers squarely in their sights.

I'll be the first to admit that I'm a regular when promoting the wonderful music emanating from within the Woodsist corral, and given the East Coast success stories of the likes of Woods, Real Estate, and Vivian Girls it has to be said that along with the Fresh and Onlys, Art Museums are doing their best to even up the East Coast vs West Coast dichotomy. They're taking the current lo-fi scene and giving a NorCal spin, which in anyone's books should obviously be a worthwhile pursuit.

Nothing is perfect in their production quality, nothing is clean. With wheezing vintage synths, straight old jangling guitars and half-arsed percussion staccato they evoke a messy image of Guided By Voices or a stuttering Tall Dwarfs. Stand out tracks include the cleaner-pop tune of Sculpture Gardens, and the riposte of the Belle and Sebastian-esque throwaway So Your Baby Doesn't Love You Anymore. The lyrics of When Amber Melts and Oh Modern Girls make like less-intelligent Stephin Merritt shtick. Jason Quever from Papercuts makes an appearance wielding synth on final track 30 Seconds.

This is simple music from coffee-drinking, bicycle-riding San Francisco natives bored with try hards and keen on the traditional way of making music - getting together and jamming it out. There's no sense of pretension in their project, despite the judgement-laden lyrics that they throw about. They fail to escape the worst of their own savageries, and indeed openly admit they fit within the bohemian art-bent demographic to which their accusations are directed. Hell, Rough Frame is the iconography of the old adage - you can't bullshit a bullshitter. Almost satirical in their outlook, Art Museums are here to pay you out - and if they strike a chord you'd better listen up.




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