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Monday, Feb. 8, 2010

Gary Tanin

Natural Selection (Daystorm Music)

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Gary Tanin’s name might not ring a bell with all local rock fans. But as a veteran producer, he’s worked with some of the city’s finest and best-known musicians—including the BoDeans’ Sam Llanas, the Violent Femmes’ Victor DeLorenzo and Genesis’ Daryl Stuermer.

Natural Selection gathers 18 songs from Tanin’s own musical output between 1971 and 2004, beginning with four cuts off of Sublime Nation, his 1995 solo album featuring Talking Heads co-founder (and Milwaukee native) Jerry Harrison. Compulsively catchy ditties such as “Little Black Book” and “Every Trick in the Book” act as the perfect introduction to Tanin’s Beatles-influenced, slightly nasal power pop. Next come four tracks from the Xpensive Dogs, a project that paired Tanin with Japanese electronic-music composer Toshiyuki Hiraoka for two albums and revealed a darker, more rugged, guitar-driven side of Tanin’s musical mind. Other songs here include progressive-leaning pop cuts from the soulful mid-’1970s concept album Otto & The Elevators and a selection of nice-sounding but dated ballads coming at the end.

Despite its low-key conclusion, this is a worthy collection from a guy who deserves greater renown. Milwaukee’s lucky to have him.


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