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Dumptruck | Lemmings Travel To The Sea (Devil In The Woods)
Poor Seth Tiven: It is eighteen years since he formed Dumptruck in New Haven, CT., and in that time, if I have counted correctly, only five albums have been painfully born. Tiven has had nothing short of uncanny bad luck with labels and all manner of shit. It must feel great for him to get Lemmings Travel To The Sea in the shops. And then bastards like me come along to tell people that it's not very good. Dumptruck is one that benefited from the boom of jangle-pop bands that started in the early '80s. There were hundreds of them (anyone remember Dreams So Real, E.I.E.I.O or Velvet Elvis for example?), but sadly, few survivors. Considering the wretched fortune that has befallen him, Tiven has to be admired in having come this far. Like many others, I'm sure, I lost track of his band long ago, without any conscious feeling of loss. They were okay back in the day, but they didn't stand out in what was a very large crowd. They had some fine moments, like Repetition and Ethics, but in the main, Dumptruck specialised in pale twists on Television and The Only Ones. And of today, it is with some irony that Lemmings' best track, Too Many Times, contains the line" Too many times I've walked that road / with no sense of direction," because little has changed in Tiven's musical vocabulary. It's the highpoint because it is at least more adventurous than the ordinary and dated plod around it. We still have an earnest band grinding away, trying so, so hard to be liked. I find it all rather sad. To up the ante, early birds get a free 20-track live CD, recorded at the height of their minor cult status in 1986 and '88. It's great at times, horrible at others, but at least it contains the aforementioned chestnuts and a couple of spirited Dylan covers. The only other bright spot of this package is the first five minutes of the closing track on the studio platter, Water For Tears. It's spooky, and there is a full 2 ½ minute intro before the vocals enter. So, up to the five minute mark in this vein; very effective - the only drawback being that it drones on for a further seven, so filling a quarter of the album. During such time-outs, the mind is bound to wander. Mine procured a thought that could well serve as advice to the unfortunate Dumptruck - " Please, stop!"

Tom Sheriff
June-July 2001

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