Mendoza Line 30 Year Low

Mendoza Line 30 Year Low

With each release, it’s remarkable how much more depressed the Mendoza Line can get. But with this eighth album, the band often referred to as "America’s answer to the Mekons” leave no stone unturned in journeying to the heart of their darkness. Actually split into two discs, 30 Year Low proper is a brief collection of eight originals, which on their own stand as some of the band’s best work, from the Mazzy Star-ish "Since I Came” to the bitterly rollicking "Aspect Of An Old Maid,” the down-home title track and the heavily Velvet Underground-influenced "I Lost My Taste.” While this collection is suitably satisfying, the bonus disc, entitled Final Reflections Of The Legendary Malcontent, is a sprawling 18 tracks of similarly themed covers and demos. Among these are often startling reinterpretations of Dylan, Springsteen, Richard Thompson and even Cole Porter. For a band notorious for low expectations — their name is baseball parlance for the minimum acceptable batting average — this is surprisingly ambitious, a fact that can only offer a strong sense of hope for the future. This may run contrary to the Mendoza Line’s mandate but it never fails to reinforce their place as an important, if largely unheralded, American band. (Glurp)