National Skyline This = Everything

Side projects often turn out to be lesser projects - it can sometimes simply be a way to get rid of those second-class ideas that would never make the cut the first time around. Yet, every so often it all comes together and that is the case with National Skyline. The band consists of Hum's Jeff Dimpsey, Castor's Jeff Garber and Compound Red's James Minor, and the resultant music turns out to be more impressive than the cast list might suggest. National Skyline's debut album, This = Everything, continues on the same path as the EP that came before it. There are songs that somehow manage to take the epic qualities of stadium rock (typified by mid-career U2), complete with swooping guitars and the occasional Bono-esque vocal, and mix it with clinical post-rock sounds. No matter how confused this sounds, you'll know when you hear it. The quieter songs conjure up comparisons to the almost lost Scottish band the Blue Nile, and there are even tracks that wouldn't sound terribly out of place on Radiohead's Kid A, yet the music is much more immediate and accessible. This = Everything is a surprising album that creeps up on you from behind; you probably won't be completely taken in after your first listen, but with some persistence, you'll find a quietly engaging CD that manages to squeeze an awful lot into a succinct 40 minutes. (File 13)