Sunday, March 23, 2008

March into the Muck

Outkast's André 3000 and Big Boi

The Dreamscapes Proj-
ect, Pity in a Heartbeat,
Figmental Records [5/6/08]

It's beyond me why any
band would want to sound like an acoustic version of Live, but there you go. The thing is, Washington DC's Keith Center isn't as accomplished a singer as Ed Kowalczyk, but he projects just as much "passion" and "intensity." The quotation marks are be-
cause he delivers his lyrics like a musical theater performer.

That doesn't mean he isn't sincere, but there's a difference between
being in touch with your emotions, and knowing how to express
them most effectively. What may have begun as heartfelt gets
buried beneath layers of artifice. The result: insincerity. To quote
the band's "Food for Thought," It's like "a deer wrapped in a tissue."

Cross-posted at

Juniper Lane, Wake from Yourself, DJ Boy

The Washington Post describes this DC quartet's music as
"polished, radio-ready rock." Most reviews go on to compare
Juniper Lane with U2 and Coldplay (alas, the Arlington
Connection lumps the Irish U2 in with other "British bands").

It's true, all true. Singer/songwriter/keyboard player Vivion
Smith has a healthy set of lungs and a Pat Benatar-like range,
but this stuff is as slick as it is familiar. On their third full-length,
the foursome sounds like Evanescence and dozens of other dark-
tinged female-fronted AOR acts. But much less interesting.

[munk], Modest Among the Living, Waxboy Media [3/25/08]

Right: Jeff Lynne of ELO

The third album from Boston's [munk] appears on his indie imprint, but it's a major label recording in all but name (his songs have featured in TV shows, online promos, video games, and other commercial enterprises).

Entering the scene like a factory-stamped product of the cor-
porate machine, [munk] trades in a combination of musical
and lyrical clichés. Like Center, he may have poured his heart
into this thing—note the ever-present catch in voice—but he doesn't have anything original to say, and he's chosen a partic-
ularly tired means by which to say it, i.e. over-enunciated modern
rock. Bonus points for the revealing liner notes. Otherwise: pass.

Cross-posted at

Note: I received a message from [munk] thanking me for my review, even though
it isn't positive. Now I really wish I liked his CD more. Good manners are in short
supply on the Web. Kudos to [munk] for his graciousness and understanding.

Endnote: I'm not opposed to mainstream music, and own sever-
al platinum-selling albums, like Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love
and ELO's Out of the Blue, to name two examples, but both
outfits have a distinctive sound. Further, their records don't all
sound alike, and yet, when you hear their music, you know it's
them. The same can't be said about the groups above, even though
they released their material themselves. Sometimes, "indepen-
dent" is just a label classification. For more information about
Juniper Lane
, please click here or here; for The Dreamscap-
es Project, here or here; for [munk], here or here. Outkast
image from Critical Acclaim, ELO from the All Music Guide.

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