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September 4, 2003

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Witness the inner workings of indie rock marketing: Saddle Creek, looking to up the output of the burgeoning Omaha Scene, releases an album by the Desaparecidos, which is little more than a side project for Conor Oberst, whose Bright Eyes outfit is part of the holy trinity (along with the Faint and Cursive) of Omaha's "explosion". The kids eat up the Desaparecidos because it's Oberst's other band, and all things Omaha are golden right now. But what to do while Conor's busy with Bright Eyes and there doesn't seem to be anything on the horizon for the Desaparecidos? Enter the slightly savvier Jade Tree, who know a thing or two about cultivating the farm team (see all Joan of Arc offshoots for reference). Here, we are presented with Statistics.

"Sta-who?" you ask. Answer: Denver Dalley of the Desaparecidos. The other guy from Conor's other band. Thus ends lesson number one: how to take a kid no one's ever heard of and make you pick up his record.

All this business talk is not meant to suggest that Statistics' debut EP lacks merit. This fifteen-minute teaser for an upcoming full-length is a decent slab of indie rock. Everything here is Dalley's doing -- guitars, vocals and electronic rhythm section. The sound lies comfortably among peers like Pinback or Earlimart, though it's neither as melodically entertaining as the former nor as lush as the latter. "A Memory's" reverse-gated drums are as old as Licensed to Ill, and "Hours Seemed Like Days"' distorted vocoder vocals went out of style right around the same time Cher made her eighth comeback.

Statistics' saving grace is that Dalley is not a bad songwriter, though he often belies his influences (a little Superchunk here, a little Folk Implosion there). The beats behind "A Flashback" can certainly cause a little ass-shakin', while the rugged guitars keep things appropriately rockin'. Dalley has no problem blending the guitar work with the electronica, and his vocals are seldom put up front, so these five tracks have a cohesive texture, culminating in the standout, "Cure Me".

Statistics is entering a genre -- indie-tronica -- that is relatively fresh, but quickly filling up with talented acts (see the Postal Service, Denali, the Notwist, etcetera). Dalley's bid for a place in the ranks is commendable, if not top-notch -- a pleasant but far from essential introduction. It's definitely enough to put Statistics on the radar. If he can raise the ante on his full-length, due later this year, he'll turn a lot of heads.

Splendid Ezine

Scott Tennent