more sundancing
  still more SUNDANCE
issue no.
  february 5
c o n t e n t s
Nasty in Pink: The Truth About Sara
RED Reviews
Bush Finds the Primary Clue Too Late

RED Reviews
by Eryn Green

The Reason
Island records

I’m compelled to slam Hoobastank’s new album, The Reason, for reasons of my own that don’t necessarily have anything to do with the album itself, or the music represented on it, or the musicians making it.

Actually, I feel like bashing Hoobastank’s prototypical brand of MTV-friendly angst-rock without even referencing the music. I feel like saying that Hoobastank is an unnecessarily angry band.

But then I get to thinking.

I think, “Man, if my band was actually named Hoobastank, I guess I’d be pretty pissed off too.” In fact, I might even scream, “I’m getting out of control!!!” repeatedly on my band’s first single and think it’s a good idea.

“Damn,” I’d probably think, “what were we smoking when we came up with that one? Do we actually expect anyone to take us seriously?”

The answer—or at least the logical answer—would be no. No one who actually thinks about things will take Hoobastank seriously. And that’s OK, because with tired offerings like The Reason, no one will really be missing anything.

The songs on the 12-track Island Records release are well-produced, I’ll give them that. The band’s producer, Howard Benson, ought to be commended for layering and adding guitar lines and vocals to the album, stopping each song from sounding exactly like the next. As it sits now—and as I have complained about so many offerings from this played genre of music—the songs sound just different enough to trick a naive listener into feeling like he or she actually bought 12 songs worth of material, as opposed to just one really long and awful track.

But we’re RED readers. We’re not naive. We won’t be fooled, no matter how hard the Hoobastankers of the world try to pull the wool over our eyes.

There are very few examples of innovative songwriting on The Reason. Track six, “Luck,” is an interesting look at the upside of fame (because there are so many overt downsides, right?) and the title track seems heartfelt.

But then again, it’s a song put out by a band called Hoobastank, so I somehow doubt it.

The Middle Distance
Young at Heart Records

Maybe The Middle Distance— a Salt Lake City indie-punk band— took its name as a reference to the space between finding a band’s distinct, original sound and sounding like everyone else.

If this is the case, The Middle Distance should keep looking.

The main problem with Forward, the band’s five-song offering from Young at Heart Records, is that there is nothing—or rather no song or sound or series of melodies— on it that can readily and only be identified with The Middle Distance.

Although the breakdowns on “Sale of a Century” and “February x 10” come close to breaking new musical ground, all the components of the songs on Forward are tired and have been heard before.

The sounds are not necessarily ripoffs, but anyone unfamiliar with the band would be hard-pressed to differentiate between this album and many others in the indie-punk genre.

The opening chords on “In a Moment” and “Between” are so similar as to sound suspect… and I think they might be heard again on “Sale of a Century.”

Bear in mind, there are only five songs on Forward. The repetition is not hard to miss.

But it’s not all bad. Forward has its moments, and behind all the repetition there are some good songs waiting to be heard.

Once the band falls into its stride on cuts like “Digital,” it becomes apparent that there might be more than just mimicry in The Middle Distance. Lead singer Devin Greenleaf’s voice matches the underlying destructive tones of Forward’s lyrics (many of which he wrote) and Jefferson Davis’ guitar is on-point all the time.

Actually, Davis’ rhythm and solos are the best parts of Forward—the band might fall into total redundancy if it weren’t for his grace-saving guitar work.

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