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The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up | It's Winter Here (Absolutely Kosher)
There is no one named Jim in the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up, so anyone searching for the whereabouts of their old, hilarious high-school friend Jim Yoshii is best advised not to buy 'It's Winter Here'. There is, however, plenty of pile-up spread through the eight tracks. In the first song, Jezt mit Iodine, the band dispenses with a few minutes of low-key, sad boy indie rock before spending the remainder piling up layer upon layer of guitar and cymbal roll. It's majestic. There's always a great, encompassing feeling that occurs when a band simply decides to forego a conventional ending and closes on noise, especially when the band features a trio of talented guitarists. In a live show I once saw Stereolab play the same closing note for fifteen minutes in what, I guess, was obviously an exquisitely rendered tribute to the Jim Yoshii Pile-Up. Singer Paul Gonzenbach has a keening, sincere voice and a knack for couplets followed by a poignant kicker. "You ask me what's my greatest fear" he sings in Breakdown Championship. "Well honey it's living here / And making six-fifty an hour." This is redolent of the saddest Built to Spill dirges and the drizzly northwestern earnestness of 764-Hero. But ultimately there's something even more honest about JYPU. Real life often has the structure of one of their songs: a lot of quiet meandering punctuated by the occasional passionate blow-up. And then back to slow sadness. It's a genre album. For those who haven't already felt some kind of kinship with bands like the aforementioned Built to Spill, Bedhead, and Pedro the Lion, 'It's Winter Here' may remind you of the crap your boyfriend listened to on the flipside of a Sebadoh tape. But for those who are out there loving straggly guitar melodies, wearing cardigans and Buddy Holly glasses, and waiting for someone to really, truly, truly sum up love in the span of an album, it's a worthwhile addition. Pile up, pile in and pray that one day they might need a fourth guitarist.
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002