Barbacoa – Italian Medallion
I originally grabbed the Italian Medallion disc because of the intriguing cover art. The sun-burst color scheme and kitschy fonts suggested some kind of throw back sound – something psychedelic or at least something that would rock hard – while the back sleeve has a Stephen Malkmus looking dude holding a guitar. Many of the song titles even have a sort of amateur Malkmus-esque rhyming (“Italian Medallion”, “Punk in the Trunk”, “Medieval Knieval”) which only supported my assumption that this would be some kind of attempt at a Pavement retread. And how bad could that be?
Well I brought it home to give it a spin and was quite surprised to find that the one man band from Vermont wasn’t the Pavement super-fan I had hoped for. Instead, Bill Mullins is a man who loves to surf. It turns out that Barbacoa’s Italian Medallion is an entirely instrumental foray into surf rock. I think that one sentence summarizes the album about as well as possible. It’s really a collection of one-and-a-half to two-and-a-half minute guitar songs which take one hook, repeat it for the entire song and then move on to the next track. All style, no substance. Still, a few of the hooks are pretty catchy, though not particularly memorable, and Bill’s no slouch on the guitar. So give Italian Medallion a listen next time you and your bros are out catching waves, but if you’re not into that kind of thing, it’s safe to say that you can skip this one.
Final Verdict: Thumbs Down
Highlights: “Captain 20”, “Medieval Knieval”, “Hoveround”