Tortoise
Standards


4.5
superb

Review

by Miguel Walter USER (20 Reviews)
May 21st, 2006 | 17 replies


Release Date: 2001 | Tracklist


Tortoise is a post-rock band that only writes instrumentals, so these guys are tough to describe. I’m going to do my best, though, and I hope you guys like it.

When I joined this site, Tortoise was one of those bands I expected to see covered a great deal. When I saw that TNT was given the love it deserves, but noticed that Standards wasn’t even listed, I knew I had to remedy the problem.

To be sure, TNT is an excellent album and it deserves all the praise it gets. But Standards, the follow-up to TNT, has less “noodling" and I really believe it’s a better album overall.

Instead of going track-by-track, I’m just going to go over a few highlights.

First off, I have to talk about album opener “Seneca." As any Tortoise fan already knows, these guys usually know how to kick off an album with a bang, and Standards is no exception. “Seneca" begins with two minutes of feedback and drums, but right when you start to wonder if the whole track is nothing but noise, a quick beat begins. It sort of reminds me of “Jetty" from TNT, actually.

Once the beat starts, “Seneca" starts to evolve, with a new element being thrown on top of the mix every half-minute or so. First, there’s a guitar riff, then some weird noises that sound almost like a dog squealing, then another guitar part, then some playful handclaps … you get the idea. These guys are clearly having fun.

Anyway, this is a great, bizarre track and it’s actually my favorite Tortoise composition. I mean, who doesn’t love handclaps? Someone with no hands, I suppose, but they’re just jealous.

“Six Pack," another highlight, will remind fans of TNT tracks such as “Swung From the Gutters." It has some great guitar and bass work, and the percussion helps everything blend together remarkably well.

Right after “Six Pack" is “Eden 2," another excellent track. To be honest, it reminds me of “Army of Me" from Bjork’s Post, so much so that I picture the “Army of Me" video whenever I hear it. Still, though, it is certainly its own beast. And instead of hearing Bjork’s voice, you get to just focus on the rhythm. “Eden 2" is short, especially for a Tortoise track, but it is certainly worth checking out.

After the one-two punch of “Six Pack" and “Eden 2," we come to “Monica," my favorite track on the album besides “Seneca." The first minute or so is nothing but a smooth, relaxing beat that sounds a lot like something hip-hop producer J-Dilla/Jay Dee would have produced. If anybody has heard his production on Common’s Be, particularly “Love Is," the opening to “Monica" sounds like that. If you haven’t heard Be, sorry, but the comparison is so strong that I had to point it out.

(Hell, if you haven’t heard Be, just go find it. It’s a great album. And J-Dilla’s Donuts is essential, too.)

After the intro I’ve probably spent too much time discussing, the band just throws a lot of percussion at the track and experiments with whatever sticks. I don’t know how much these guys practice before recording, but “Monica" sounds like the guys just having a lot of fun with some basic sounds. It’s a fun song and one I can just keep listening to over and over.

The album closes with “Speakeasy," a moody piece that takes time to build. Once it does, though, it has enough emotion that you could compare it to one of the later tracks from DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, though I wouldn’t go as far as saying its as good as anything on that record. “Speakeasy" is creepy and dirty, but I love it and it ends the album on a superb note.

Overall, Standards is an excellent post-rock record. There isn’t a bad track in the bunch, but “Seneca" and “Monica" are obvious highlights.

I’m sure this wasn’t the best review in the world, but like I said, describing this band isn’t easy. If you like instrumentals that aren’t always necessarily catchy, give Standards a shot. It is at least as good as TNT. I personally think it is superior.



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user ratings (100)
Chart.
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Bron-Yr-Aur
May 21st 2006


4405 Comments


Six reviews in three days. Your a friggin' machine, man. Not your best review, but good nonetheless.

Zebra
Moderator
May 21st 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome, a Tortoise review. I didn't like this album as much as TNT or Millions Now Living... but it has some excellent songs. I really liked the drumming and funkiness that Standards has, it has such a mellow yet groovy atmosphere.

FeralCats
May 22nd 2006


9 Comments


' Tortoise is a post-rock band that only writes instrumentals, so these guys are tough to describe.'

Umm...I'm pretty sure you described them, and rather easily...

STLMiguel
May 22nd 2006


335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can do anything!

AbysmalFace
May 22nd 2006


35 Comments


FeralCats, I believe having heard the band's music before reading is necessary to understand the statement.

Thanks for enlightening me on this album, STL.

Kage
May 22nd 2006


1172 Comments


Excellent review. I think Tortoise is a band that doesn't get the attention they deserve on these here boards.

Anyway, Millions Now Living...is my favorite, followed by TNT and the S/T, but this album is still great. Tortoise is a timeless band.

Zebra
Moderator
May 22nd 2006


2647 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I just couldn't get into the s/t album. I just recently got it and the bass work is very rigid and stale, I was also upset by the lack of electronics and dub effects.

STLMiguel
June 13th 2006


335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Zebra, I'm getting the s/t this weekend, so maybe I'll review it ... I downloaded two songs from it off of eMusic with my free trial and I liked them.

Interstate
June 18th 2006


23 Comments


I've heard Seneca from this album which sounds great. I have their self titled and Millions..., both of which are great so I'll have to get this, as well as TNT.

STLMiguel
June 18th 2006


335 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Get this before TNT. I'm the only person that would tell you that, though.

shablaman54
November 30th 2008


281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i like tnt just a bit more than this, but this is growing. good review, tough album to explain

shablaman54
November 12th 2009


281 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

seneca and eros are so damn good

jagride
November 12th 2009


2342 Comments


good band but i dont like this album at all

Meatplow
April 6th 2010


5524 Comments


I'm enjoying this band a lot recently.

porch
April 6th 2010


8460 Comments


My least favorite Tortoise album, and i'm pretty sure i've heard them all

Meatplow
April 6th 2010


5524 Comments


this and TNT are my favourites at the moment

I need to give them all time

scissorlocked
September 4th 2011


3510 Comments


album slays

the band needs wider attention



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