Germans Cape Fear

[Arena Rock; 2007]

Styles: indie rock
Others: Grandaddy, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr., Archers of Loaf

When the fuzzed-out bass and drums come in over the gossamer guitar line opening for "Tiger Vacuum Bottle" one feels almost instantaneously transported back to the early to mid-'90s. In particular, one is reminded of the sounds emanating from labels like Matador, Merge, and Homestead, those rumblings that came to define "indie rock" as a genre. Germans may be a young group of guys putting out a debut album, but their relationship to their cultural forebears is so distinct it almost feels like Cape Fear may have been left in a time capsule circa-1992, only to be opened 15 years later as a can of dweeby whoop-ass meant to rekindle a flame that was bound to burn out. And in a way, it works really well by doing just that. Coming at a moment when Dinosaur Jr. and Sebadoh have just reunited and Pavement reissues are flying off the shelves, maybe this is a time where listeners are ready for indie rock to reach back to its roots?

Keeping that in mind, Cape Fear is like a fun trip down memory lane -- and a delightfully tuneful one at that. The only trouble is that after having listened to it a few times, I'm still left unsure of what Germans' sound is supposed to be. It's not exactly that they are cast from a single band's mold, but rather that their chameleon-like abilities have them creating aural moments that echo an array of groups of yore: "Nature's Mouth" sounds like it could be one of Pavement's outtakes from the reissue series; "So It's Out" is like a roughshod Sebadoh rocker; even the heavy use of cheesy synths throughout the album belies a debt to Grandaddy, especially on "Pogos Abenteuer."

This isn't to say Germans are just a derivative exercise. They may flaunt their influences a tad too heavily, but their skill and talent are still notable. For those looking for a nostalgic trip, this is a great ticket, but I can't help but feel that many of those folks might be more inspired to go back through their own collections rather than get hooked on Cape Fear itself.

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