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  Snow Tires  
  Hidden Agenda  
Release Date:
  2.September.2008 (originally released 10.August.2004)  
Reviewed by:
  Indoor Miner  

I came to this album as a complete stranger to Unbunny, but apparently Snow Tires is their fifth record and was originally released in 2004. It has now, however, been re-issued to a wider market with a couple of extra tracks from a limited edition EP tagged on at the end. The other thing I learnt was that Unbunny's mainman Jarid del Deo has apparently flitted across the USA over the years. One can only assume that he's been listening to a lot of Neil Young on his travels as the whiney Heart Of Gold dude sounds a major influence on del Deo not just in his mid-tempo, vaguely country-ish songwriting, but also in his slightly nasal vocals.

Snow Tires opens with the slow and initially underwhelming Casserole which finds del Deo singing over an acoustic guitar and piano about "flat chested trailer brides" and an arrow that is "flashing directionless over hotels of husbands and infidels". Apart from the obvious Neil Young likeness, there's also a touch of Low about it, and I must concede it's a bit of a grower. The highlight of the album, however, is undoubtedly PM. Opening with children singing, it features not just the strongest melody here, but aching harmonies, pretty arrangements and a simple yet effective strangulated guitar solo. It really is a rather beautiful number.

I Leave Stones Unturned is another that's strong in the melodic stakes and Certain Lights, perhaps one of the most Neil Young-like of all, is another highlight. Elsewhere, Nightwalking is an acoustic number with more nice harmonies whilst Nothing Comes To Rest has a touch of latter-day Beatles about its beat and features a distorted guitar playing about a million miles away in the distance. I Know Things I Haven't Tried, meanwhile, has a rather nice string arrangement whilst Pink Lemonade is another that brings to mind The Beatles with its Don't Let Me Down-like tune.

Snow Tires itself ends with the rather sinister deathly slow title track, before we get to the bonus tracks. The Path is somewhat Simon & Garfunkel-ish both in terms of the vocals and The Boxer-like tune, whilst X is notable for del Deo telling us he's full of shit and lies and trying to rhyme "Brian Eno" with "stereo".

As much as I like Neil Young, it took a bit of doing to get past the obvious influence and a begrudging feeling that if I wanted to listen to Neil Young I'd listen to him, not some young pretender. Repeated listens, however, have revealed del Deo to be an intelligent lyricist with some interesting ideas. However, I can't help thinking that if he can't do something about his those vocal similarities, he's going to have to get another singer in.

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