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
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
“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
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
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
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
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