The Designer’s Drugs: Uncles – Replacing Words with Other Words

Medium: Album

Stimulus: Uncles – Replacing Words with Other Words

Anno: 2010

I’m not sure if I received a bad copy of this album, but the first track on Uncles’ album has a few glitches in production.  The first verse of “Deaf Dumb Dog” abruptly repeats and restarts the song, which runs along normally until it ends mid-sentence.  As there are no other such anomalies on this rather pretty collection of beat folk, I’ll give this misstep the benefit of the doubt.

The majority of Replacing Words with Other Words consists of wailing poetry running alongside acoustic guitar, the core fleshed out with faint bursts of bass, strings, and a hollow-sounding piano.  “Fishnets and Luncheonettes” is the one song to fully buck this formula with emphasis placed upon the piano, imitating a rainstorm.  Within the established procedure, the most notable song is “Hackensack,” in which the vocals and guitar parallel an organ in rising strength.

At its very worst, Replacing Words with Other Words feels like Uncles is trying a bit too hard to mix its poetic sensibilities with a country twang.  There are a few lyrical oddities (“Deaf Dumb Dog” compares a prickly leg to a Founding Father), and the vocal strain is most pronounced in the suburban drawl of the otherwise serviceable “Settler’s Song.”  Yet in total, Uncles provides a solid catalyst for quiet contemplation which is as notable for its words as for its moods.

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