A bottle of cheap wine, some basic recording equipment and a pile of old Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and Television records was all it took for Judah Bauer (of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion fame) and his brother Donavan to come up with a stripped-down, minimalist (but well-produced) enema for overblown, underemotional radio rock.
Every now and again it's good to clear out the cobwebs and get back to the raw blues that fueled early rock and punk. This record has its rough spots, particularly the spectacularly awful "Sympathize" and the repetition that characterizes some of the tracks. The singing is also painfully thin in spots, really crying out for more soulful treatment.
On the other hand, the sonic quality is beautifully clear, yet very real -- the spare instrumentation is kept edgy and genuine. Violent Femmes fans itching for new material or Lou Reed devotees would do well to check this CD out. 20 Miles doesn't cover new ground or even explore old chords with new angles, but you're far more likely to make a real emotional connection to this than, say, the latest Hole record. There was a time when that mattered.
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