steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

The Mathletes

"I Am Sweden" CDR

All Star Powerup Records

Genres: lo-fi, indie pop

Mar 22 - 28 2004

The Mathletes is the work of Joe, a twenty year old compulsive songwriter / lo-fi performer who has been running the Ninja Death Club for a few years now.  The Club works by you sending Joe twenty-three dollars (plus shipping,) and then him sending you CDR releases every four to six weeks for a whole year.  Plus, you get all sorts of handmade goodies and numerous bonus releases as further incentive to join.

But, you ask.  Is it worth it?  Heck, twenty-three dollars isn't much - but if it's just for a bunch of crap, why should I bother?

Well, if this CDR album is anything to go by, you shouldn't be disappointed.  I Am Sweden consists of fifteen very infectious, lo-fi pop nuggets.  Though some aren't as successful as others (Joe shares an unfailing sense of experimentation with GBV's Bob Pollard,) DIY pop fans should be quite happy with this disc.  It houses a number of The Mathletes' tunes - some successful, some not - including many really neat tidbits.

"A Partial List of my Faults" is twangy pop, "Catpower is a Good Cop" takes a very impulsive, brash approach to lo-fi indie rock, and "It's Christmas, ______" utilizes a well-known melody and gives it an alternate context.  Plus, a cover of Boards of Canada's electronica number "ROYGBIV" is an unusual and surprisingly successful inclusion.

This album is an extremely fun lo-fi diversion by a young DIY artist.  Though some of his songs can be bland and occasionally quite unlistenable, the better tunes make up for these duds.  I Am Sweden is worth a shot from any true indie pop lover.


Fun Fact: Hmmm.

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 15 tracks, distributed by the label, released 2003]