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Artist: Built to Spill
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
Genre: Indie Rock
Release: Jan 2001   My Rating: 0
Duration: 35:21
Summary: With a band like Built to Spill, the key to success is to chart a course through the future that mirrors the past. Built to Spill may be on a major label, but its linchpin, front man Doug Martsch, still writes all song parts himself and has a large hand in every album's production from start to finish. Martsch assembles the players--drummer Scott Plouf and bassist Brett Nelson--to take their parts in the studio and on tour, but he still holds all the musical cards. As a result, the Boise, Idaho-based trio sounds pretty much the same on "Ancient Melodies of the Future" as it did on 1997's "Perfect from Now On" and 1999's "Keep It Like a Secret". That said, though, why change a winning formula? Martsch's mix of wry humor, Neil Young-influenced rock, and soaring indie-pop ballads has garnered him a Guided by Voices-like cult following that this album is in no danger of turning away. "In Your Mind" is the standout track, with Martsch's fitting assertion that "No one can tell me to listen / No one can tell me what's right / because nobody has my permission / and no one can see in your mind." The other tracks are tried and true BTS fare, bending guitar effects around straight-ahead rock ("Trimmed and Burning") or layering warm melodies atop Martsch's elliptical lyrics. Indie-rock fans looking for something wildly divergent or refreshingly different won't find either on "Ancient Melodies", but those looking for a linear extension of BTS's past works should find a happy resistance to change in this latest release. "--Jennifer Maerz"


Artist: Built to Spill
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
Genre: Indie Rock
Release:   My Rating: 0
Duration: 76:54
Summary: Doug Martsch is enough of a guitar god to fill "Keep It Like a Secret", one of indie rock's strongest 1999 major-label releases, with blazing solos. He's also ambivalent about the whole thing, which allows him to highlight the album with "You Were Right," a despairing litany of classic-rock lyrical hooks. "--Rickey Wright"


Artist: Built to Spill
Label: K. Records
Genre: Indie Rock
Release: Jan 2004   My Rating: 0
Duration: 39:08
Summary: Even for the outtake collection of one of the greatest bands ever, the quality of a few of these tracks is really surprising: easily matching the best song on TNWWL, Stab -- but for the outtake collection of one of the greatest bands ever, there's an astounding quantity of throwaways.
Let's focus on the positive first. So & So, Terrible/Perfect, and Some Things all rank with Stab as the best stuff that Doug Martsh had recorded up until that time. It's a wonder that they did not in fact end up on There's Nothing Wrong, though to be sure they would have stolen a bit from the quaint personality of that album: and So & So in particular, with it's plaintive mood and bouncy but precise guitar-work, might have stood a chance on Alternative radio. As it is, these songs are surprising gems that, along with other solid tracks like Sick and Wrong and Joyride, elevate this collection far above a simple piece of interest for completists.
But it is pointless to rate this album just as an outtake collection. So let's talk about the bad. There are two duds (Shortcut and Girl), two inferior duplicates of TNWWL tracks, and Still Flat, which gets on my nerves because it starts great but by the end is a complete bore. On paper, these five flawed tracks might not seem so terrible, but they have a way of getting together and really dominating the mood of the album. There is, in the end, little point to listening to Normal Years all the way through.



Artist: Built to Spill
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
Genre: Indie Rock
Release: Jan 1997   My Rating: 0
Duration: 46:39
Summary: Built to Spill's three previous indie releases (on C/Z, Up, and K) established a new pop standard, born from lo-fi experimentation, carefully crafted hooks, plaintive vocals, and brilliant, snaky guitar lines. For their major label debut, "Perfect from Now On", frontman Doug Martsch, who leads a revolving cast of musicians, has created his most ambitious album to date. Gone are the compact, simple ditties that characterized the band's recent recordings, replaced by the kind of longer epics that typified its C/Z debut, "Ultimate Alternative Wavers". The songs--some clocking in at eight or nine minutes in length--combine the laidback intensity of Pink Floyd and Neil Young with a Beatles-meet-Pavement modern, pop aesthetic. It's at once dreamy, spooky, and spine-tingling and if there's any truly unexplored territory in rock music, you can be sure Built to Spill are in the vanguard. "--Adem Tepedelen"


Artist: Built to Spill
Label: Up.
Genre: Indie Rock
Release: Jan 1994   My Rating: 0
Duration: 90:50
Summary: Ever since Boise, Idaho, trio Built to Spill emerged on national radar with its major label release "Perfect from Now On" (Warner), its earlier recordings are infused with a certain prediscovery mystique. On 1994's "There's Nothing Wrong with Love", the roots of Built to Spill's shimmering orchestral arrangements are present, but with a distinctly tattered edge. Frontman Doug Martsch bounds from moody balladry to primal screams, often in the same songs. Add the crunch of Brett Nelson's guitar, and you wipe the sheen off 12 songs that would be just plain pretty, if not for their garage rock soul. "--Nick Heil"


Artist: Built to Spill
Label: Warner Bros / Wea
Genre: Alternative & Punk
Release: Jan 2006   My Rating: 0
Duration: 108:42
Summary: It took Doug Martsch five years to complete this album so what's another two minutes? That's precisely how long it takes to sit through a nail-biting instrumental intro before the singer chimes in and you realize that, "whew!", he still has it. The quirky, Idaho-born indie-rock group's first album since 2001's "Ancient Melodies of the Future", is positively radiant. The meandering melodies have been reigned in but the songs still don't feel like they're rushing to get anywhere, even on the double-paced "Conventional Wisdom." On tracks such as "Liar" and "The Wait" the spacey guitar solos are tempered by sweet touches of slide guitar and a back porch rhythm. Meanwhile, there's a definite Neil Young influence creeping through "Wherever You Go" and "Gone," which makes the band that was weird enough to inspire Modest Mouse weirder than ever. "--Aidin Vaziri"