Let the War Against Music Begin / Because We Hate You

By Meredith Ochs
Source: Rolling Stone Magazine
The Minus 5 versus the Young Fresh Fellows double release might be called The Many Moods of Scott McCaughey, as the veteran Seattle songwriter at the helm of the latter founded the former in 1993 with friend Peter Buck of R.E.M. Though the ingredients of both bands are similar -- garage-y barre chords, organ and a deep love of Sixties pop, along with McCaughey's nerdy-sweet vocals and his astonishing sense of melody -- Minus 5, a collective of roving, pop-loving rockers (including, on this disc, Robyn Hitchcock and the High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan, among others), have often served as the frontman's superego to the id-driven tomfoolery of the Young Fresh Fellows. That's not to say that the supergroup is completely devoid of goofiness. Let the War Against Music Begin does contain the kind of tossed-off song titles you might expect from a couple of college-age hipster doofuses batting around in-jokes. But Beatle-y ballad "The Rifleman," with Buck's signature Rickenbacker guitar, and the ultra-sweet "You Don't Mean It," sung gently over Posies Jon Auer's bashing guitar, put the Minus 5 in the lead in this battle over McCaughey's rock & roll soul. Yet his adolescent spirit will not be beat on Because We Hate You, from "Good Times Rock & Roll," a Beach Boys-inspired, silly tour diary of an outing with the Presidents of the U.S.A., to celebrating the joys of Krispy Kreme donuts on "Mamie Dunn -- Employee of the Month," to the slow, jammy "Worthless," which finds McCaughey and Fastbacks guitarist Kurt Bloch exorcising their Neil Young jones, to the seventy-three seconds of punk rock on "She's a Book." What's the verdict in the Minus 5 versus the Young Fresh Fellows? It's too close to call.