This is one of those albums that isn't quite groundbreaking in and of itself, but laid the foundation for what has become much more than one amazing album. Clear back in December of 1997, Kevin Drew (Broken Social Scene) and Charles Spearin (Do Make Say Think) decided they had some musical things in common and recorded, mixed, and mastered an album of 6 longs tracks over the course of one frantic week. They sold that release exclusively at one shop and then it went out-of-print. That album is Captured Anthems For An Empty Bathtub, and if you're fans of either of the aforementioned groups, you already know what great music has come from each.
It's easy to tell that this release is both a debut and a feeling-out of sound in general. It swings wildly back and forth, exploring about as many ideas as it possibly can over the course of 6 tracks, and while it's sometimes rough around the edges, it feels like an important document to me. It opens with "Nancy And The Girdle Boy," a blistering track full of compressed drum loops and fuzzy guitars that play on relentlessly before finally careening to a broken-down ending 5 minutes later. "Something For Chicago" is a two-minute cut of jazz-influenced post rock, possibly a direct nod to Tortoise and just about everyone else creating similar music from the Windy City around the same time.
"Anorexic He-Man" again changes things up, raining down a rumbling 4/4 dance beat and absolutely sick bassline over almost melancholy synth melodies that drift in the background and chopped-up bits of vocal conversation. Although it runs a bit long, it feels like a torchbearer for the dancepunk craze before there was such a term. The best tracks on the disc are the longest ones, and it's here that the duo really shows off their talent for letting things unfold slowly and surely. "Save The Last Breath..." is a quiet droner, mixing warm tones, piano and guitar into a super slow-burner while "Tired Hands" closes the disc with 12 minutes of slowly building organs, electronics, and horns that culminates in an uplifting ending.
The group even provides a little bit of a historical document on the project in "Kev's Message For Charlie," as the duo play melodies back and forth to one another on answering machine messages. As mentioned above, the music itself isn't consistently stunning, but there are definitely stand-out moments. It's not quite as good as the follow-up by the duo (the amazing Anthems For The Could've Been Pills), nor quite as polished as the debut Broken Social Scene album Feel Good Lost, but there are still some excellent things to be heard, and it's a must-have for completists of the above artists.