Who Am I Today?

Price: $6.00


  1. Hole In The Wall
  2. Blender Wins Again
  3. She Said
  4. Broken Stitches
  5. Germ
  6. Grind Like A Girl
  7. 100 Cigarettes
  8. Rusty Water
  9. Mechanic's Grip
  10. Infinite Spark

Album Review

Don't blink. You might miss the 10-song, 18-minute album from US Rail, a self-proclaimed six-piece lo-fi antifolk band from suburban New Jersey that is still learning their instruments. This is lo-fi indie rock in its truest sense, perhaps the first real lo-fi rock you'll have the pleasure of hearing since early Beat Happening, early Guided By Voices, and the like. Those bands succeeded, even if, like these fine folks, they didn't really know how to play their instruments all that well when they started.

Charm alone isn't enough to carry most bands, but surprisingly Who Am I Today? succeeds on pure charm. Multiple vocal parts - sometimes it sounds like as many as three or four people are singing - combine with keyboards, drums, bass, lap steel, and electric guitar. Something like a more garage version of Beat Happening, U.S. Rail has a light, laid-back sensibility but can even lay out some garage rock urgency.

The multiple vocals work excellently together on the opener "Hole in the Wall," almost making you forget that only the drums sound planned out here, as the guitar and bass strum away simply in the background. Much better melodic guitar helps provide a laid-back line for the vocals to drift along on the sweet "Blender Wins Again," while the keyboards and off-key vocal approach gives a fun playfulness to my favorite track, "Germ." And the last tune, "Infinite Spark," shows the band showing off, really piling on the keyboards, guitars, drums, and vocals for the most energetic track, even if it's over in less than a minute and a half.

The band's antifolk tendencies do come out on a few of these songs, like the lap steel-led "Broken Stitches," which has an alt-country sensibility, and the fine guitar lines of "Grind Like a Girl." That lap steel guitar keeps "100 Cigarettes" flowing almost beautifully, while the vocals, male and female sung together, have a kind of atonal yet attracting quality to them.

The band admits that the production here pretty much sucks. "She Said," one of the more rocking tracks, is buried way too quiet, but the lo-fi nature and pops and clicks on the short guitar instrumental "Rusty Water" feels intentional and necessary. U.S. Rail reminds me why lo-fi indie rock can be so fun. This band isn't pretentious - not in the least. They probably don't have aspirations for big money and record label deals. They're killing time in their garage, and in the process they're writing snappy little indie-pop tunes that are fun and catchy. Sure, I'd like to hear them get some money for better production, but sometimes lo-fi garage pop is fun too.

Dave Marsh
Delusions of Adequacy
January 27, 2003