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Vinyl Word: Song Machine by The Exbats

Vinyl album cover

Goner Records

48 out of 48 stars

By Tom Smith

Contributing Writer

I have been writing album reviews since high school (N.E.W. Lutheran High), and over the years I have developed a theory that when writing record reviews, the person writing them has a certain expectation of the impact of the review in one away another.

I think most reviewers — myself included — have a hope that if a certain album really impresses you and you feel this album needs to be heard by the masses, that perhaps your review might interest someone enough to give it listen.

I personally hope you might even go purchase some of the albums I review at one of the two record stores in Green Bay, but I’m also happy if you use your phone to sample them online or perhaps the artist’s name rings a bell when they come to Green Bay, perhaps promoting the album you saw reviewed.

I’m sure reviewers have other expectations that may or may not be realistic. I don’t think any of my reviews are ever going to cause a seismic shift in the music scene of the United States, but I must admit I’m curious it reviews I have written have been read by it’s subject and what they thought of it.

A few months back, I wrote a review for the most recent Mudhoney album.

I saw them in Milwaukee two weeks ago and I asked Mark Arm of Mudhoney if he had seen the review (he had not).

The other perhaps unrealistic hope I have when writing a review is that the album being reviewed might provide some help to someone having a really bad day, a case of depression or dealing with a tough point in their life.

That is a pretty high goal, but I feel certain albums can give that kind of relief.

The album I’m reviewing this month is exactly that rare kind of album that is a light at the end of the tunnel at some of the darkest points in your life.

An album sure has to pack a happiness punch to be able to pull that off, and trust me Song Machine by The Exbats is one right hook followed by a left hook of powerhouse punches to the jaw right from the opening bell, excuse me, opening track, “Riding With Paul,” followed up by “To All The Mothers That I’d Like To Forgive.”

Both these songs have you dancing up a storm, then “Easy To Be Sorry” slows things down and reminds me that I consider The Exbats a much happier version of The Velvet Underground.

The next song, “Himbo,” does nothing to convince me otherwise.

The next track, “Like It Like I Do,” is another toe tapper that is uplifting and catchy as heck.

Side two starts out as just as strong as side one with “You Got My Heart Hot,” followed by my favorite song on this album, “Food Fight.”

I had the extreme pleasure of seeing The Exbats recently at Gonerfest 20 in Memphis and “Food Fight” was a new song that really jumped out at me.

“Better At Love,” the next track, has hit written all over it.

This review is dedicated to the memory of Noel Rick Moore — an incredible wonderful human being that was taken away too early from a multitude of family, friends and coworkers who are missing you big time.

Writing this review helped my broken heart, and whatever this review does for you, the reader, I’ll take.

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