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The Golden Age

3.5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 19, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

This record by the band American Music Club is an effort to experiment and extend the range of their expression. The Golden Age is no exception: from the Mariachi horns to the breezy Beach Boys harmonies to the unfolding layers of feedback, this album is full of varied, joyous, and generous pop music. AMC is a San Francisco-based band led by singer-songwriter Mark Eitzel. AMC is better known for mastering the disparate strands of American music into a wholly unique synthesis all their own. On June 20, 2007, AMC announced a new lineup connected to the band's base of operations moving to Los Angeles. Eitzel and Vudi remain, while Mooney and Pearson stayed behind in San Francisco. They are replaced by bassist Sean Hoffman and drummer Steve Didelot. 13 tracks. Merge Records.

Amazon.com

Turns out that 2004’s Love Songs for Patriots wasn’t just a one-off reunion record for San Francisco’s now quarter-century-old American Music Club. With original members Mark Eitzel and Mark "Vudi" Pankler still joined at the hip--at least when it comes to recapturing the lovely studio sound that carved out the band’s niche--AMC’s second second-life album (recorded with L.A. musicians on bass and drums) is as gorgeous and disorderly as any in its nine-album catalog. Eitzel’s panoramic songwriting ranges from a crush ("All My Love") and a hometown vignette ("All the Lost Souls Welcome You to San Francisco"), to a World Trade Center memory ("The Windows on the World") and a call-out to the 18th-century patron of altar boys ("The Victory Choir"). His emotionally unaffected vocals and Vudi’s jagged guitar work weave those ideas into a melodic and atmospheric formula that sounds as fresh and influential today as it did in the early 1990s. --Scott Holter
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (February 19, 2008)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Merge Records
  • ASIN: B0011HF68M
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #229,520 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By K. H. Orton VINE VOICE on February 21, 2008
Format: Audio CD
If Love Songs For Patriots sounded like a tenative reunion to some, The Golden Age rolls up its sleeves and gets down to business. Though Eitzel still treads the dark waters, there is indeed a silver lining lurking behind the gathering storm clouds. Those looking for the angst of Mercury or Everclear are likely to say they've mellowed but there's still enough self-doubt to cling to.

"All My Love" starts things off with a gentle, dreamlike atmosphere & pretty much sets the tone for the whole album. That's not to say Eitzel's world weary cynicism has been abandoned in the least. "Victory Choir" is a fairly sarcastic swipe at the high & mighty religious right. Despite any upbeat smoothness, "Decibels & Pills" takes an all too familiar seat at the bar where "names are only good for gravestones".

In "Lost Souls" Eitzel seems to have written an all too ironic little anthem to the city that has long since harbored him. Without a doubt, "The Sleeping Beauty" is the album's standout ballad. Elsewhere, there's "The Stars" & "Who Are You" to keep fans coming back for more. While catchy, "The Dance" is by far the most unsettling track---around & around they go till his gun "paints her face all red". The angst ridden Eitzel of old, rears his head on the demented accordion waltz of "I Know That's Not Really You".

Any claim that AMC were just a glorified backing band has hopefully been laid to rest by Eitzel's somewhat erratic solo career. Truth is, no guest or session guitarist can quite bring what Vudi does to the proceedings. The man knows his Eitzel having been there from the start, & throughout they're in brooding simpatico. Despite a new rhythm section, there's a chemistry here that makes it clear they're far more than temporary replacements.
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Mark Eitzel is at his best when he is at home with American Music Club. I own and treasure several of Mark's solo albums, but with Sean Hoffman, Steve Didelot and Vudi Mark makes AMC a band that is very special. The songwriting on The Golden Age is particularly outstanding. No credits are given so apparently all the songs were written by Mark [?]. I know I will be listening to this album many times, now and in the future.
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Format: Audio CD
The Golden Age is American Music Club's second album since reforming in 2003, then moving from San Francisco to Los Angeles last year. (There are a couple of odes to the former city included, the best of which is "All The Lost Souls Welcome You To San Francisco.") The album is a relaxed, laidback affair for the most part, enlivened by some excellent, often heavy sounding electric guitar work by Vudi on songs like "The Decibels And The Little Pills," "The Windows On The World," both album highlights, and "On My Way." Mark Eitzel, leader of the band, sounds great, and his literate, often sardonically funny lyrics are matched to a fusion of rock with Americana, country, even a bit of waltz on "I Know That's Not Really You." Some of the songs go on too long and start to meander a bit, but in general, this is a very strong album. Other standout cuts: "All My Love" and "The Sleeping Beauty."
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Format: Audio CD
Admittedly, I'm only a casual fan of American Music Club and Mark Eitzel's solo recordings. I admire his artistry and find the emotional impact of the lyrics impressive, but musically, I've always felt a bit underwhelmed. This recent "comeback" album doesn't break any new ground, but I don't think that's what Mark was looking to do, nor what AMC fans would expect. This one didn't blow me away, but I did find myself listening more carefully to certain songs, drawn by Mark's achingly sincere vocals. Heart-on-his-sleeve stuff once again. If you're fan of the band, you would probably find a lot to like on this album, but I don't think it's the best one for the uninitiated listeners.
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