The Mendoza Line

After 10 years or so, the members of Mendoza Line are still mining their original choice of topics: dashed hopes, failed relationships, and the uncertainties of life in the modern era. The band's latest two-disc opus clings to this tangled trajectory, maintaining a decidedly downcast gaze. Therefore those unfamiliar with the band's basic MO ought to steer themselves to the newer music present here, the eight-song mini album titled 30 Year Low. Despite its insurgent sneer, the mellow glow of songs such as "Since I Came" and "Tell It to the Raven" are surprisingly engaging. And if nothing else, the swaggering "Aspect of an Old Maid," the sassy "31 Candles," and the unapologetic "I Lost My Taste" suggest the Mendoza Line is on a learning curve.

A bonus disc, subtitled Final Remarks of the Legendary Malcontent, provides an unruly mishmash of demos, live tracks, rehearsal tapes, and occasional covers. "It was the biggest cock I'd ever seen," singer Shannon McArdle marvels on the defiant "Packs of Three," one of the more, um, up-front ruminations. Regardless, despite its mix of rocking riffs, easy rambles, and down-home strums, this part of the package is no more durable than a one-night stand.


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