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CD Review: Antietam

Opus Mixtum

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The Deal: Double disc highlights long-running trio's sonic diversity.

The Good: It's tempting to view Brooklyn-via-Louisville stalwarts Antietam as one of those rediscovered treasures washed ashore in the latest trend cycle and declared "seminal," a Dream Syndicate or Mission of Burma for the late aughts. Even though guitarist/singer Tara Key, husband/bassist Tim Harris and drummer Josh Madell have been at in their current incarnation for 17 years, they take so long between releases that their seventh studio effort almost feels like it should be a reissue. It helps that Antietam's punk chops, honed in the late '70s and later for Homestead, are still highly flammable. Key gets much critical love for her ability to shred or shade, recalling at various junctures Tom Verlaine, Joey Santiago, Bob Mould or Magnapop's Ruthie Morris. That list suggests there's a time-capsule aura to the best songs – the Yo La Tengo-like "On the Humble," "Turn It On Me" (think Breeders), the Galaxie 500 ode, "Time Creeps" – but Antietam have always supplied their own twist and still sound fresher than the latest NME-approved post punk du jour.

The Bad: All double discs beg the question: Is all this necessary? And the answer is usually "nope." These 26 songs mix three styles intended for two distinct releases: Antietam's trademark punk pop, Key's acoustic solo efforts and several sprawling instrumentals. Nixing most of the latter and making some tough choices among the other two was the way to go.

The Verdict: Burn the best from both discs and, presto! A goddamn classic.

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