Auricle: Music Discovery and Discourse

Music I Didn't Like This Spring

Rather than rave about the music I like, which I do most of the time, I present to you a handful of recent albums that really did nothing for me.

I will be selling most of these CDs on if you care to explore the mediocrity.

American Hi-Fi, "American Hi-Fi." Why not? It was on the "try me!" rack at Virgin, and popping through the tracks (on a typically jacked-too-loud headset) the sound wasn't bad. Guitar crunch, harmonies, enthusiasm. Kind of like the Marvelous 3. Not till I got home did I realize this is the band behind "Flavor of the Week." Which is exactly what American Hi-Fi is. Kind of like the Marvelous 3.

Guided by Voices, "Isolation Drills." In which we discover that Robert Pollard's whiny, nasal vocals sound much better married to quirky lo-fi tunes like "The Goldheart Mountaintop Queen Directory" than wanna-be pop songs like American Hi-Fi would write.

New Pornographers, "Mass Romantic." After reading comments like "super-cool Canuck pop collective" and "Vancouver's indie rock supergroup" I _had_ to have this album. And the opening cut, the title track, is one great rock song. But the next 11 tunes are blasé mid-80s ripoffs with very little to recommend. Neko Case sounds great, but the album does not.

Pearl Jam, "Binaural." Pearl Jam was once the greatest rock band in America, funkier than Nirvana and more expressive than Stone Temple Pilots. Then they took a hard left turn into sonic muddle with "Vitalogy" and "No Code." Now that they're back playing rock music, there's not much left for them to do. They rock, but they don't say much. After 45 minutes, one looks at the stereo and says, "Oh, so that was Pearl Jam, huh?"

Grandaddy, "Sophtware Slump." No one warned me that singer Jason Lytle sounds like a warmed-over Wayne Coyne, who sounds like a post-pubescent Tiny Tim in the first place.

The good news is that I really dig my Thievery Corporation and Kruder Dorfmeister CDs. Maybe the trick is to stop looking for the next great power-pop band and sit still until Fountains of Wayne gets another album in stores.

June 7, 2001


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Copyright © 2001 David Wertheimer. All rights reserved.