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The Glands

Hailing from that notorious Southern independent music Mecca called Athens, Georgia, The Glands mix styles like George W. Bush mixes metaphors -- that is to say, indiscriminately, with casual disregard for the outcome. Fortunately for them, the musical result is considerably more successful than Dubya's speeches tend to be: endearingly messy, tuneful collages of sound goofier than Alfred E. Newman's grin. The underlying approach is mostly bouncy, sometimes glum lo-fi pop, a la Lou Barlow or Guided by Voices. OK, sounds simple enough, right? But when you start adding in a dollop of British Invasion attitude, a tablespoonful of The Olivia Tremor Control-style pop magical realism, a little twisted country-fried rock, a touch of recycled Philly soul, etc., etc., well, you wind up with a strange brew indeed. Somehow The Glands manage to do it all relatively seamlessly, and perhaps more importantly, with nary a hint of artifice or pretension.

This strange and wonderful band features singer/songwriter/guitarist Ross Shapiro and drummer Joe Rowe (they're the main guys), plus bassist Craig McQuiston, guitarist Frank McDonald, and keyboardist/steel guitarist Doug Stanley. The Glands self-released their debut album in 1997. The band claims they called it Double Thriller because they used the same mixing console for it that Michael Jackson used for his Thriller album. Uh, sure. Well, anyway, Bar/None heard the record (which features "Welcome to New Jersey," by the way) and decided to give it a proper release, instantly catapulting the band to fame and fortune.

Well, OK, not quite, but critical response to the album was good, helping The Glands land a deal with Capricorn (which would soon become Velocette). On their second, self-titled LP, The Glands continued pursuing their unapologetically geeky musical merry pranksterism. Again, the band sounds for the most part like high-quality '90s college radio fare, but the left-field influences keep flying in the face of that: some smooth soul, some droning psych, some piano jazz, some white-boy rap, some sleepy pseudo-funk, some Merseybeat, some polka. No joke! The Glands do it all, even while definitely managing to sound like...well, The Glands!