Bareback Ride

Released May 24, 1993 on CD and cassette. Caroline and Quigly Records.

Reviews

Minneapolis trio hits all the right notes on sophomore album that should alert modern rockers who skipped the first release. Keen sense of melody and dynamic instrumental punch key such strong numbers as “Subway”, “Shine”, and “Disappear”, all of which might win favor with listeners who recall the tuneful energy of the Replacements and other fondly remembered Twin Cities post-punkers. – Billboard (June 6, 1993)


“Bareback Ride is an absolute gem of an album, an exhilarating example of just how cool American college rock can be.” – Kelly Cornwall, June 1, 1993. Read the full review on Fast n’ Bulbous.


Walt Mink are not hard-core, but are nontheless a fantastic band. I guess you could describe their sound as alternative. Some tracks are hard, while others are acoustic. Definitely a keeper. – Satisfaction Guaranteed 2 (1993)


You ever heard one of those bands that’s just dying to be liked? These guys seem to be the epitome of such a notion, as this album is not exactly filler but no killer either. It’s pleasant, yet too much of pleasantness like “Tree in Orange” and the Rush-esque “Subway” can get a bit monotonous. They mean well, and that’s the clincher. – Stink Face 3 (1993 Summer)


Walt Mink is hard to peg. Describing their fairly original sound to the unitiated definitely puts a strain on one’s sense of musical history. If Modern English were a power trio? If Blondie had combined punk and disco musically rather than aesthetically? If the Smashing Pumpkins were happier? If Rush played rock and roll? This last comparison is in jest, but there are indeed many well-informed observers who consider Walt Mink to be (yikes!) a prog-rock band.

Don’t buy it. They’re all excellent musicians, but they’re not absorbed with “virtuosity” over feel; in other words they still play a form of that rock and roll music that Chuck Berry, sang about. Maybe the resentment comes from the fact that Walt Mink is not a self-absorbed “alternative” band, that they seem to be more interested in their music than in the image-worship of some particular “scene.” They even risked charges of “selling out” (Did the Mats sell out to Sire in 1985?) by signing with Columbia over the summer.

The closest comparison would probably be The Pumpkins, former Caroline label-mates. They have a similar sound only Walt Mink seems happier… more danceable. John Kimbrough’s lost Chipmunk vocals and guitar-hero fireworks combine with the excellent rhythm section of Candice Belanoff and Joey Waronker to create a kind of guitar-heavy dance music out of discord and rhythms that don’t always connect.

Their newest record, Bareback Ride, is a decent, if disappointing, follow-up to the excellent 1992 debut Miss Happiness. Bareback Ride is more varied, from the acoustic lilt of “Sunnymede” to the not-quite-hardcore of “Fragile,” but it isn’t as consistently interesting as the Minor Threat meets Love meets The Bee-Gees kinda thing that made Miss Happiness groove. “Turn,” “What a Day” and the ultra fast and catchy “Disappear” are the highlights. “Turn” is the only song where Belanoff’s bass exerts itself to the same degree as in “Showers Down” and “Factory” from Miss Happiness. The two acoustic tunes, “Sunnymede” and “Tree in Orange” are a nice change of pace, though largely baffling. The rest of the album, especially “Frail” and “Shine” are just sort of there. (What’s with all of these one word song titles, reminiscent of Pearl Jam? Blech.)

Overall, Bareback Ride doesn’t hold up against Walt Mink’s live show. This problem is sure to remain until they start writing better songs. They do, however, make solid, danceable, honest music and their strengths definitely outweigh their weaknesses. Listening to Bareback Ride one wishes this album had a bit more of that good ol’ rock and roll looseness.

Chris Herrington, MacWeekly (September 24, 1993).


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