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New Amsterdamns | Never You Mind | review | indie | alternative | rock | Lollipop

The New Amsterdamns

Never You Mind (Vagrant)
by Tim Den

If this magazine ever gets its "Bio-Hazard" column going, the "background info" sheet that came with Never You Mind would be #1 on the list. Perhaps a bit sick of everyone bashing on The Get Up Kids - whose bassist and guitarist/vocalist lead The New Amsterdams - this "biography" reads more like defensive, snide remarks contradicting all the evidence on hand. Mainly, that good songs don't need distortion or loudness to be moving. Wait a minute... this coming from the same people who constantly throw devil signs in the air and shout "rock hard" and "keep rocking"? If good songs really don't need volume, why don't these kids make The New Amsterdams their full-time thing and give up The Get Up Kids? Oh wait, that would make it harder to yell "rock'n'roll" with a straight face (not that it's an easy task with this emopunk stuff anyway). My bad.

The fact is: yes, "anyone without an acute case of tinnitis should be able to... recognize the differences between them." One is loud, the other not... but standard of quality does not bend to volume levels. Mediocrity is obvious, veiled by Marshalls or not. Yes, "acoustic numbers... (can) eclipse the power of any plugged-in band," but only with acts like Billy Bragg and not The Get Upsterdams. Because, just as in the world of loud rock, acoustic tinkerings have to be meticulously calculated. Capturing not only persuasive melodies (which are the focus and most vulnerable aspect of acoustic songwriting, since there's little accompaniment to support it), but also a mood of some sort: be it "everyday-folks" or "lonely frontiersmen." Never You Mind does not capture any mood. It merely watches from afar with jealous eyes and a desperate need to copy.

The New Amsterdams supposedly "aim for what (The Get Up Kids) excel in: raw emotion." If The Get Up Kids already "excel" in the craft (which they don't), then why do it with another band? And if being soft and whispery really is that powerful, why bother "excelling" in it with a conventional rock band to begin with? Pop rock/folk hasn't just recently received credibility because of The Get Up Kids and The New Amsterdams. These two mature types of music proved their ability to deliver long before some kids came along and decided to waver back-and-forth between them, yelling "rock!" one moment and pretending to be Elliott Smith the next.

p.s. Every song on here sounds like Jimmy Eat World B-sides. Oh, except "Goodbye," which I swore was on Pinkerton.

p.p.s. Moods For Moderns, The New Amsterdams... what's next, The Pump It Ups? Or better yet, how about (The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes, or The (I Don't Want to Go to) Chelseas? Can you tell who just discovered Elvis Costello and The Attractions?
(2118 Wilshire Blvd. #361 Santa Monica, CA 90403)
 


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