Half Notes: Five-Eight – I Learned Shut Up (1993)

With a name for the record books (said to be the average height of American males), a hometown that couldn’t have hurt and a finely honed screamer-guitarist, Athen, Georgia’s Five-Eight planted itself in the center of all that was groovy in what was then called Alternative Rock. Mike Mantione, the aforementioned singer-instrumentalists (who’s 5-7, by the way), has a couple of things going for him: A voice that fills with emotion, to the point of splitting at the seams; and a guitar that often stumbles — actually stumbles — toward the divine. Well, there’s also The Mention. Five-Eight was one of the first local bands that Peter Buck, guitarist with You Know Who, said was “worth hearing.” The good part? He was right: “From “She’s Dropping the Bomb” to “Suit of Sin,” Mantione doesn’t shy from the friendless topics of suicide, raging and otherwise insidious madness — oh, and the love of trashy women. As far as rock ‘n’ roll goes, the lyrics are air-tight. And praise the Lord, most don’t rhyme. Add some destructive guitar work and the far-from-seamless bass thump and drum bash of Dan Horowitz and Patrick Ferguson, and it’s on to ragged glory.

‘Half Notes’ are quick-take thoughts on music from Something Else! Reviews, presented whenever the mood strikes us.

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Nick DeRiso

Over a 30-year career, Nick DeRiso has also explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz, Ultimate Classic Rock and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.