50 MILLION: Broad Side of a Barn and Shit on a Single: CD

This is the type of album, err, retrospective (of sorts) that makes me hate myself for doing whatever it was that I was doing to miss this when it first came out. This is a CD compiling an EP, some singles, comp tracks, unreleased stuff, and a recording done with Hickey called Hickey Million all spanning the late nineties—and the it came out in 2005. The tracks on here, up until the Hickey stuff, sounds like what might’ve happened if Steve Albini or Thurston Moore tried to produce a Sebadoh album. Still, 50 Million totally makes it their own. They go from acoustic bits to hectic indie noise to small doses of dingy, poppy punk. (If it helps, Shell of Shellshag is in the band, and Jen is included under “Other performers.”) The Hickey Million recording is awesome. It has the swirls of a cassette that has been listened to beyond its expected life span, giving it a sense of familiarity and down home goodness. Take that and add a tiny hint of indie (à la above-mentioned) to Hickey, and there you have it. Also, the two bands made an outrageously fantastic cover of Billy Bragg’s “A New England” together.

 –Vincent (Starcleaner, www.starcleaner.com)