REVIEW: emmet swimming, Arlington to Boston

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Kelley Nelson

Jul 18, 1996, 3:00:00 AM7/18/96

Full HTML version available at t@p online:
Realaudio enhanced, nice bright pictures
and WAV audio..

All the songs mentioned in this review can be listened to via RealAudio
on t@p online.

With the release of their third CD, one can't help but ask: has the
Fairfax, Virginia group known as emmet swimming gone to Hollywood?
Happily, the answer is a resounding "No."

Arlington to Boston has captured the raw intensity of the quartet's live
shows which have made them the most popular local act in the
mid-Atlantic states. When asked what he thought about hitting the
"big-time," vocalist Todd Watts says that rather than stifling their
creativity, it has provided the group with resources that they didn't
have available when producing their first two albums, an endeavor they
took on themselves using their own label,
Screaming Goddess Records.

Veteran producer Don Dixon, who produced albums for REM and the
Smithereens, was brought in to help the band record their new material
for Epic. "The Album is sonically the best that we've put out."
Says, Watts, who says that the album was recorded in a large church in
North Carolina. "This train runs by the studio, you can hear it on some
of the tracks if you listen closely enough." Dixon did the right thing
by leaving all the earthiness in, because this is an earthy band of
humble musicians. The effect is stunning, an emotional roller-coaster,
much like the live shows the group plays up and down the East Coast.

The Album Starts with Arlington a song spoofing the beautiful people who
frequent the bars that the band finds themselves playing in. Past albums
have been somewhat darker, but this time around Watts and the crew
unleash the brighter and faster sound on a few more songs like Sellout
and Parking Lot, both songs about being a musician and travelling from
one gig to another. The strong work of lead guitar Erik Wenberg is much
more noticeable on this album than on previous outings. His ability to
add tragic and crushing beauty to Watt's haunting baritone voice is
incredible, and especially poignant on tracks like 8:45, and Long Way
down, a wailing lament about a languishing relationship. Watts' lyrics
are famous for being unyieldingly personal and urgent, often detailing
painful relationships, feelings of self-doubt, and particularly
on this album, life on the road.

These feelings come pouring out on tracks like Bullet in your Hand which
echoes "kiss on the chin, all the while you're staring at him, tug on my
leash, please, don't do this now, don't you need me around, don't I make
you stand out, don't I make you feel proud, I'm falling down, and can't
feel the ground, I'll be whatever you want me to be... It's all I
can see, the bullet in your hand, that's me, it's what I want to be."

Beyond the strong music, the CD holds an engaging multimedia element,
which, oddly enough isn't advertised on outside of the case. Drop it
into the CD-Rom of your computer for a few unreleased tracks,
pictures from the band, and notes detailing their life on the road.
For music with real grit and character development, go check out
Arlington to Boston, from Wammie-winning quartet emmet swimming. Five
stars out of Five for not selling-out, for great production, and for
a great concept album. Don't forget to try out the multimedia, if you
don't read everything inside the CD jacket, you'd never know it was even

Drop in your $0.02 by joining the discussion of this album
on the t@p online website! <a


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