Bubble gum and peanuts.   Separately they are both tasty things that are fun to chew.  But when you combine the two, the texture in your mouth is quite … well, quite troublesome.  Dan Black (formally the frontman of British band The Servants) has replaced a live band with a laptop and a lot of hype.  He is best known for covering Notorious B.I.G.’s Hypnotic by mashing it with the drum beats from Rihanna’s Umbrella calling it HYPNTZ until the B.I.G. estate refused permission to use the lyrics forcing Dan to write his own and call the song Symphonies.

Symphonies ended up being the first track on ((UN)). Exhibit A: Bubblegum.

Dan’s attempt at blending hip hop influences with indie rock and electronica lacks focus and seems to be trying to please every type of hipster he thinks is actually listening to his album more than once. Trying to imitate all the hip singers (Beck, Robbie Williams, Rufus Wainwright, Chris Martin, Thom Yorke) ultimately makes him sound no one in particular.

This is a slick and well-produced album which shows that Dan does indeed have talent – which might trick some people into thinking this album is better than it actually is.  But regardless of catchy drum beats and funky bass on tracks like Alone & Yours, various samples & the subtle use of auto tune on Pump My Pumps, this album can’t be saved. Basic pop with polential but not very much soul. On Dan’s myspace page he lists his influences as only Sigur Ros & Jay-Z … Gum and nuts indeed.

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Finding the soft balance between Weezer and Replacements influences, Salinas have crafted a catchy and smart pop album.  They thrust 80’s indie jangle against some big, anthemic rock n roll.  It is held together with songwriting skills belying their young age, allowing this album to rock pretty solidly from top to bottom.

Matt Austman’s lyrics are full of the young romantic’s trials – unrewarding sex, missing connections, and the quest for meaningful relationships.  A tense politik also weaves its way throughout.

No Caulfield Absolutes is the only low mark – an intimate song which should be rewarded with intimate vocals to match.  Instead, the post-hardcore yelps create a barrier to the emotional punch the song could otherwise have.

Younger hints at some of the Red House Painters’ more rocking moments before turning back towards the band’s safe anthemic stylings.

Smartly produced by Royal Canoe’s Matt Peters, this debut album showcases a band reaching towards lofty goals.  They show much promise and with continued efforts such as this plus some good old fashioned hard work, will grow into the kind of band people will rally around, fists in the air.