"The Curriculum is Never Neutral" CD
Genres: indie rock, indie pop
1907 11th Ave E
Seattle, WA 98102
May 24 - 30 2004
At The Spine is the brainchild of Mike Toschi, a
Seattle-based songwriter with an uncanny knack for creating tight,
catchy indie rock tunes. One of his music's best elements is its
youthful, Quasi-esque vocals, which add a distinct accessibility
to the songs. The Curriculum is Never Neutral, released on the
Global Seepej label, is Toschi's latest release, and it is a
fine pop artifact with strong Sparklehorse and Built To
Spill influences - though with more of a rock slant.
This disc's best moments are those when Toschi sticks to a
poppish, quirky style. His more fiery numbers aren't nearly as
accessible, nor as successful. Take "Twist Wrapped" and
"Dark Days" - two of the best tracks on this disc. They are
heavenly, Built To Spill-esque tunes, filled with subtle,
effective hooks and a lush, almost cute attitude. The latter is a pure
gem; it lays soft vocals over a wonderful acoustic guitar background.
However, there are also a number of less incredible songs. "Green
and Blue" is bland and becomes uninteresting after multiple
listens, and the energy of "Crystal Clear" is unmelodic and
far from enthralling. However, catchy tunes like "Second
Hand" and the Quasi-like "Cutter" make up for
the more melodically deficient songs.
The Curriculum is Never Neutral is a solid outing for Toschi's
At The Spine project - if you can look past the few duds,
you'll discover a really successful batch of pop tunes on this disc.
[Vitals: 13 tracks, distributed by the
label, released 2003]