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Holding Back the Year by Lou Barlow

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Reviewed on 12th June 2005.


Holding Back the Year

By Lou Barlow

About to embark, or currently on - depending on when you read this - a pretty miniscule tour of the UK is alt rock granddaddy Lou Barlow.

Followers of Barlow have been tossed and turned that many times over the years, mainly due to Lou and his ability to sit still in one genre long enough. There was the scuzzy, lo-fi Sebadoh, which evolved into the beats and programming Folk Implosion, and all the while interspersed with his solo efforts of laidback acoustic tones.

Things have settled down nicely now though, and Barlow returns with this 4 track EP/ single, debuting songs from his new record, 'Emoh', which has been hailed as one of the nicest records he's done.

'Holding Back The Year' is a delicious little slice of Americana in the tradition of acoustic countrymen like Dylan, Hank Williams or even Johnny Cash. The skippy, rootin' tootin' country esque feel gives the song an irrepressible energy, refusing to lie down or slow down.

'Finger' slows it down though, and as the little acoustic ballad trundles along on it's own, like a small clump of tumbleweed in the night, it's beautiful and tragic. It's easy to see the influence of part time Lambchop producer Mark Nevers on Lou Barlow's new output, and things carry on much in the same way on 'Terrorize', another downbeat acoustic-led number.

Then 'Refused' comes roaring along, all sampled drums and everything. Musos amongst you will pick it out as 'Being There' by Unkle, but Barlow manages to make it sound as if Lavelle and Shadow had never even used it in the first place. Funky and lively, it's just what he needed to pick things up again.

Lou Barlow: in a word, cool.



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