Band: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin
Album: Broom
Best song: “Oregon Girl” has the best hook. “Yr Broom” is great.
Worst song: “Anne Elephant” isn’t great. Overall, the whole record is just nice. Nothing great. Just listenable.

How much does a band name influence its exposure? Do crappy bands get more blog-time than they should because of a good name?

I always wonder this stuff because of the bands I enjoy that have changed recent names. Jason Molina’s four differently named, though similar-sounding projects (Jason Molina/Pyramid Electric Co., The Magnolia Electric Co., and Songs:Ohia) may have put a dent into his exposure. Bill Callahan now releasing records under his name — as opposed to his 11 recorded as Smog — makes it harder to follow, on some level.

So, that’s confusing.

I guess easy band names make life easier for fans. It’s easy to be a fan of, say, Tortoise. It’s not a tough name to remember. It’s not a tough name to follow. Being a fan of, say, the Rolling Stones, isn’t hard. Pink Floyd, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Jethro Tull are sometimes confusing if only because some lesser fans think them to be one dude instead of a collection of dudes. Metallica is a brilliant name for a metal band, as is Iron Maiden.

Whatever. I’ve written too much on this topic. The reason I was thinking about it is because indie rock bands often give themselves silly(ish) names and I always wonder if said names are a hurdle. Sure, a band like the I Love You, But I’m Not in Love With Yous (a college band while I was at University of Missouri) is good for a chuckle, but it’s a pain to write and say. I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness is a great fucking band, but they’re not really hard enough for their name. Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s is a long-ass band name and a band that probably would’ve had more cache, if they actually had an easier name.

Anyway, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is a brilliant concept. In the same way that Margot & the Nuclear So and So’s does what they do well, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is pretty good at what they do. As an indie pop band, SSLYBY hits all the relevant points. “Pangea” has the upbeat nature and the peppy vocals of the best indie pop has to offer. “Yr Broom” features the often-clapped hands of recent vintage indie rock as well as an acoustic guitar to die for. Vocally, the band combines harmonies of the Beach Boys with the scaled down intimacy of the singer/songwriter mold. “Travel Song” has a more snide vocal track, as the band laments a former flame. “Oregon Girl” is peppy, with a That Dog-guitar line that echoes the early 1990s, only done by four weenie dudes from Springfield, Missouri.

For the most part, the record does not sound as though it was recorded in someone’s bedroom — though it indeed was. “House Fire” is layered with keyboards and a picking guitar piece, while “Travel Song” only has tinges of Smog-production levels. “Gwyneth” is the lowest of the fidelity, with thinny drums backing up a crisp piano. The vocals buoy the song, indeed.

In a way, SSLYBY is a copy of a copy. In taking its cues from the Replacements and R.E.M., the band is rehashing a sound (jangle, jangle, everyone) that was a facsimile of something else in the first place. It’s perfectly pleasant, but nothing we haven’t heard from the Shins.

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    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

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