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Elder Statesmen
Exchanging Gifts

Exchanging Gifts, the debut CD from unsigned indie band Elder Statesmen, is the sort of album I'd have put into heavy rotation back in my college DJing days. The band is most often compared to Jesus Lizard, but there's much more going on here than that. The easiest thematic comparison is probably to Modest Mouse's more discordant (yet still melodic) offerings, yet repeated listenings here offer up many more worthy comparisons; influences as varied as King Crimson, Primus, Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, XTC and Jane's Addiction come through clearer and clearer the more you sink your teeth into this meaty piece of music.

The first two tracks on the CD -- "Mr. Quill" and "Single Spark" -- are probably most indicative of the band's overall sound, offering up numerous time changes, vocals that often drift into the "falsetto" range, and staccato rhythms which border on unpredictable. More listener friendly are tracks like the melodic "Echo Man" (which will undoubtedly be found mislabeled as a Foo Fighters song on Kazaa someday) and "[delirium]", which is far, far too short (at 2:32) to do justice to what has to be the closest thing to Saigon Kick's The Lizard since the real thing. Compare that to album closer, "Miles Away", which at over seven minutes is practically epic; the song starts with a low build of cymbals and guitar before giving way to a lush soundscape replete with fuzzy vocals and guitars reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins at their moodiest.

Favorite Track: "Miles Away"

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Michael Fiegel is a freelance writer and graphic designer. His diverse background includes journalism, radio copywriting, technical writing, game design and music reviewing. He is best known as the creator of the Internet cult sensation, Ninja Burger. He can be reached at or at his website,

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