My Teenage Stride Ears Like Golden Bats

[Becalmed; 2007]

Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: indie rock guitar pop
Others: Belle & Sebastian, Rilo Kiley, Interpol

Press release one-sheet cliché number 27: Stating that the artist has written and recorded hundreds (HUNDREDS!!!) of songs, dating back to their bedroom Tascam 4-track days.

Letting the public know you have penned hundreds of tunes doesn’t amount to much. Okay, so you are earnest in your hobby. Excellent, you have a lot of time to dabble around. Splendid, your ego has already turned me a tad squeamish. It’s better not to boast your extensive, unreleased, unheard back catalog. However, this brag does bode well for Jedediah Smith, the driving force and singular vision of My Teenage Stride. It appears this tally is proof of preparedness. He is well-versed (rehearsed) in songwriting. He has honed in. He has edged toward personal perfection (although perfection does not always equate with superlative music). The knack. Jedediah Smith (talk about an all-American name — he’s originally from historic Massachusetts; now he dwells in that artistic sump, Brooklyn — that unholy cistern of independent bands) — has the knack. (That was a long parenthetical phrase interrupting that last sentence, let me type it again, to be clear.) Jedediah Smith has the knack.

The songs of My Teenage Stride would sound appropriate in any of our three most recent decades. Whether it be a new wave shoegaze in the '80s, a circular and sharp guitar-riffed '90s indie anthem, or a revival (derivative) tune of the 2000s, My Teenage Stride inch all over the timeline. Known for working alone, Jedediah Smith has a small supporting cast this go-round, though most of the duties still fall on him (voluntarily, I’m sure). This is a guy who doesn’t shy away from much. Case-in-point: Jeddy, m’boy, has the swollen scrotum cojones to begin his moniker with a My, followed by an adjective of some sort, and end it with a peculiar noun (see: Valentine/Romance/Jacket/et al.). His songs have a Guided By Voices brevity, keeping them two- to three-minute pop joints, like a golden oldie “rule to live by.” His voice is sometimes Stuart Murdoch, sometimes Paul Banks, sometimes Tracyanne Campbell. Whichever flattering imitation it may be, it’s always above a bass line reminiscent of Kim Deal’s finest thumping/thumbing.

A critic finds it hard to complain about this kind of music, despite the press release violation. Here’s to the next 700 songs.

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