September 13, 2003

Xiu Xiu/Jim Yoshii Pile-Up "Insound Tour Support"

Ah, yes, the tour support CD. A chance to make a little extra cash on tour, offering up your small, loyal fanbase something new and unheard--and something they'll cherish, if you never acknowledge its existence outside of tour. Calexico, His Name is Alive, Dirty 3, Saturday Looks Good To Me--these are but a few groups that have taken up this practice. Insound had a good idea with this one, even if it's been a bit sporadic over the past few years. Initially treated in the same regard as a singles/subscription club, it has been a bit more hit-and-miss, with releases coming infrequently. I did not get this on their tour, but, luckily for me, I snagged this little curiosity in hopes of finally hearing two really hyped-up indie-rock bands.

Jim Yoshii Pile-Up are a Seattle-based indie-rock/emo band, and they sound like it. Really, now, they don't really do much but reaffirm the fact that Death Cab For Cutie are one extremely influential band. It doesn't help much that Chris Walla produced these four songs, either, so comparisons to DCFC should be taken without complaint. Sure, their songs are pretty enough, and I guess I can't fuss about them too much, but I'm neither impressed or unimpressed. Jim Yoshii simply are, and you can make of that what you will. "Seattle" and "The Conversation Stalls" are the best of the bunch, and the other two, "Birthday Cake" and "Xmas Card" are merely OK.

Xiu Xiu, what to do with you? Comparisons to Joy Division and any other group of depressing, moody folk certainly seem to be appropriate. Good lord, though, you're depressing and obsessive! I mean, you're a group that polarize people: you're either loved by people who think you're so dark and depressing and brilliant, or you're hated by people who think you should just jump, as opposed to simply talking about it. I like "Bunny Gamer," though, and though I'm not really keen on your whole folkie type of thing on "Fabulous Muscles," "Little Panda McElroy" and "Nieces Pieces," I guess I can understand why people like you. Not my thing, I guess, but I think that has to do with the St. John's Wort I'm taking these days.

Okay, so it's a bit of a mixed bag, but for the price (six bucks) the songs aren't really that bad; it's a pretty good little mini album, even if you don't like emo and/or suicidal California art-rockers. It sure saves you the guilt from downloading their album, and in a few years time, after the fame thing happens, you can get a few extra bucks to pay off your student loans from selling it on eBay.

--Joseph Kyle

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