NectarineGrass RecordsGrade: A+

Nectarine is the Raphael of indie rock. Much like themaster of old, this modest little Chicago band takes fromthe work around it, absorbs its best attributes and makesthem its own. This is not theft, but merely contemporaryinfluence, mostly from Bob Weston produced bands. The band'sdebut, "Sterling Beat," has the pulse of the undergroundscene, but a style all its own.Pavement's feedback, their hometown's affinity forpowerful guitars, and the wimp rock sound are all drawn uponand improved with a dynamic rythmn section, Pablo Koller'svocals, and an ever-changing melody. It's amazing the widerange of highs and lows they achieved working on theequipment used and without a studio.The album has its fair share of pop tunes, like "MyGood Friend" and "Trust Fund," which never deviate from theindie ethic and get too sweet to rot any credibility andreduce them to the cheapness of Ezra.The highest quality tracks are instrumentals, such asthose that open up each side, "Nectarine" and "Breakfast,"which are a bit too brooding, but impressive nonetheless.But Nectarine's shiniest moments are when, as Eric Bachmanwould say, it's rocking out on louder efforts like "Bleach,Sunny Day Chicago," and "3939," which would blow evenDiscord reps away, but manages to avoid hardcore and stayharmlessly wimpy.If you have the means, buy the vinyl copy. It's quite adelight, featuring better cover art, and plenty of coolinserts. One is a series of fake stories on the band,complete with equally false pictures, and a map of Chicago,highlighting its hippest spots, like the best places forburritos."Sterling Beat" is a nice profile of the independentscene, and with its first full-length just out, Nectarinehas already proven itself as indeed one of the masters.

-- Matt Kudlacz

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