The Modern Sounds of The Knitters
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 2005, Volume 12, #9
Written by T.J. Simon
In 1985, members of the seminal L.A. punk band X (minus Billy Zoom) joined forces with The Blastersí Dave Alvin for a country-driven side-project known as The Knitters. The resulting album Poor Little Critter on the Road was noteworthy if only because of the punk rock aesthetic that the band brought to the performance of straightforward, classic country and western swing material. The reformation of the band 20 years later on The Modern Sounds of The Knitters fails largely because the novelty of punk rockers singing country was swept away with the tidal wave of sneering, alternative acts that have emerged over the past two decades. As a result, all that remains are substandard songs performed by artists whose best moments can be found elsewhere.
About half the vocals on The Modern Sounds of The Knitters are performed by Exene Cervenka, but her voice just isnít up to the task. Her off-key delivery on tunes like Give Me Flowers while Iím Living and Skin Deep Town are simply cringe-inducing. John Doe does the singing on the passable Try Anymore (Why Donít We Even) as well as a handful of other inoffensive numbers, but for a better example of his considerable talents, look no further than his solo album Forever Hasnít Happened Yet, which was released earlier this year. As for Dave Alvin, his guitar work is fine, particularly on The New Call of the Wrecking Ball, but the fact remains that there are countless other points in his career when his contributions have been better utilized ó such as on his considerable solo catalog as well as his work with The Blasters.
To make matters worse, The Modern Sounds of the Knitters ends with a terrible cover of Born to Be Wild, which serves only to draw this inessential outing to an unnecessarily bad conclusion. While itís nice to get together with old friends for a reunion, more thought should go into any album that is meant to memorialize the event.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box