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

Nick DeRiso has also explored music for publications like USA Today, Gannett News Service, All About Jazz and Popdose for nearly 30 years. Honored as newspaper columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section that was named Top 10 in the nation by the AP in 2006. Contact him at nderiso@somethingelsereviews.com.