All over the good, sad place
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I have worked my backwards through the AMC catalog since I bought _SF_ about 5 years ago and have been amazed to have never gotten down to anything I would have considered juvenilia. This album contains some incredible gems, shiniest (if darkness can shine) of which is "Tell Myself", which simply one of the best songs Eitzel has ever written. Some of the songs are a bit grating, especially in the context of what immediately precedes them, which is something a little creative CD programming can fix. The Eitzel funny bone is present in the form of "Mr. Lucky" and the more subtle "How Low", one of the extra tracks on this re-release. This latter song is to my ears a listenable satire of the tide of early 80s electronic pop that was ebbing when _Restless Stranger_ was released. I wish I had known about this album when it came out."
Martin Dawson | Royton, Oldham, United Kingdom | 10/25/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"'When Your Love Is Gone' is possibly the archetypal AMC song : it is ostensibly about loss,somehow manages to crystallise what you already knew but hadn't quite been able to express or put into words("...you'll see her in everyone")and yet is just massively,unbelievably uplifting and inspirational.
The rest of the album almost follows suit.'Yvonne Gets Dumped' is a hypnotic rocker and there are more up-beat numbers than on later releases(this is not 'Caught In A Trap...')so overall it is possibly a good introduction.But then there's the majesty of 'Everclear' and the blistering return to form of Eitzel's 'Invisible Man' so who am I to tell you where to start...Okay then,just buy everything!!!If you've ever been in love and thought 'I will lose you,I will forget you...',then this album and this band are for you.Have fun..."
A Promising Beginning
Thomas D. Ryan | New York | 11/04/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)
"Due to its relative rareness and its inability to stay in print, here's a record that you'll probably never hear. If you're unfamiliar with American Music Club, this isn't necessarily the best means of introduction anyway, but it still has its moments, and it qualifies as a reasonably solid first album. The Restless Stranger sounds exactly as you might imagine a San Francisco-based band to sound in the mid-eighties, full of angular, wrenching arrangements and analytical, self-deprecating lyrics that are more than a step or two removed from the mainstream. It also displays the diversity of the band's range, veering from the melancholy sadness of "Room Above the Club" and "Away Down My Street" to the wrenching catharsis of "$1,000,000 Song" and "Mr. Lucky." Singer Mark Eitzel remains interesting throughout, whether he's sympathizing with the losers who populate his songs ("Yvonne Gets Dumped") or flagellating himself over some self-perceived shortcoming ("Point of Desire").
Despite the subject matter, Eitzel never sounds as though he is ranting uncontrollably, since his words are usually well grounded in intriguing melodies, while the band arrangements remain simultaneously understated and provocative. At times, the band sounds a bit like early-eighties Cure, with lopsided chords echoing behind a forlorn melody, but ultimately, the American Music Club is too original to retain anything quite so derivative. Any such comparison is thoroughly trashed by the inclusion of the acoustic blues of "Heavenly Smile" and the ethereal energy of the title track (actually, a bonus track on the CD release). To hear the band at its most original and expressive peak, pick up a copy of Mercury. If you appreciate that, then search this out; it will be worth the effort. B+ Tom Ryan"