Spirited guitarist cannot save Possum Dixon’s latest album

From the pounding electrical violence of the 47-second instrumental that opens Possum Dixon’s latest release, New Sheets(Interscope Records), listeners know they are in store for something unique.

While lead vocalist Rob Zabrecky sounds thin and uninspired, guitarist Celso Chavez shines. Using an array of effects, he delivers a performance unparalleled in recent pop music.

Unfortunately, despite all of Chavez’s space-age guitar riffs and the synthesizer blasts, Possum Dixon serves up a less than satisfying mix. However, the release does fulfill some of its promise. Songs like “Holding (Lenny’s Song),” “Firecracker” and “Faultlines” prove Possum Dixon could take on Matchbox 20’s Top-40 rock any day. But Possum Dixon would have problems measuring up to a band like Fastball.

Possum Dixon is best described as a combination of the fictional band from the Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! and the 1980s group The Cars. The founder and guitarist of The Cars, Ric Ocasek, produced New Sheets, and his heavy-handed influence is felt throughout the album.

New Sheets’ best tracks are the collaborations of Ocasek, Zabrecky, B-52s front-man Fred Schneider and former Go-Gos guitarist Jane Weidlin. Tracks such as “Song From A Box” and “Only in the Summertime” are propelled by Ocasek’s contributions. “Firecracker” is a multilayered revision of the B-52s songs “Planet Clare” and “52 Girls.”

Weidlin and Zabrecky contribute one of the album’s greatest and most baffling tracks, “Faultlines.” The song is catchy – too catchy. The song won’t leave the listener’s head for several days.

While the New Wave music of 15 years ago was fun, innocent and interesting, New Sheets is bittersweet pop ‘n roll. It may not be as tasty as the old style, but perhaps it is just a product of the times.

For most listeners, New Sheets will be a trip into a world of hackneyed pop, cloaked in space-age mediocrity – and most likely, it’s a trip they won’t want to take.

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