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The Sweet Clementines 

click to enlarge 2008, Independent.
  • 2008, Independent.

The songwriting duties on More Sweet On You, the first CD by New Paltz’s Sweet Clementines, are tackled alternately by singer-guitarists John Burdick and Chris Tanis. The difference in their styles is tangible: Burdick’s songs are wordy—the lyrics are thoughtful, more cryptic than deep (as in the first track, “Mary Goes ’Round”). His songs would make a high school English student smile knowingly and a hillbilly want to kick someone’s ass. Tanis’s songs are more standard fare—a meatier Traveling Wilburys. In general, the music is harmless rock ’n’ roll: There is not a hint of Satan’s thorny tail or bleeding bat heads in the first four songs. The six-track EP was recorded and mixed by bassist Jason Sarubbi (The Trapps, Tracy Bonham), and the production only adds to the absence of drama. Aside from a “warbled” guitar on one song, this is a straight-ahead interpretation of tones and their placements in a straight-ahead musical vision. Think of Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks without the hindsight and maturity of years of hashing out catchy, quirky, and angular postpunk masterpieces. The best songs on this record are track five, “(I Almost Wrote a Book About) Steve McQueen,” and the unnamed ghost track. Both of these songs finally let go enough to show some emotion; they’re more raw and less controlled, warmer and heartfelt, and not trying so hard. www.myspace.com/sweetclementines.

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  • Jason Broome reviews New Paltz's Sweet Clementines first CD, More Sweet on You.

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