CD reviews dissapoint

Abandoned Pools
Humanistic
In stores now
1 Hatchet

Solo artists run certain risks. The most secret of these risks is that artists composing and performing entirely by themselves just are not inventive enough to come up with 12 songs that actually sound different from each other. For Tommy Walter, sole member of Abandoned Pools, this risk becomes reality.

Sounding like the happiest of Trent Reznor rip-offs, Abandoned Pools rolls the dissimilar styles of Stabbing Westward and Savage Garden into one pop-laced industrial track after another. This formula might have worked in the ’90s, when Stabbing Westward still enjoyed a modicum of success, but now his work stands up against a waning interest in pop-rock altogether.

Walter’s songwriting is at its best when following in the pattern of French pop duo Air. Track nine, “Ruin your Life,” is a near-copy of the pair’s lush, synthesized sound. Despite the obvious mimicry, it remains the highest peak on an album of melodious ennui.

The most puzzling feature on Humanistic (Extasy Records) is its lyrics. Although the songs sound positive, each line drips with shallow cynicism and disillusionment. This album points to a future that marketing types can only dream of, where studio albums can sound poppy and catchy while still appealing to the more jaded teen audience.

Thankfully for us at least, Humanistic stands an icicle’s chance in hell of becoming the next big thing.

-Peter Joseph

Default
The Fallout
in stores now

How many times can an album be re-produced?

A new wave of musicians, raised on Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains, are taking hold of the music industry seeking to re-release the already rehashed sounds of early ’90s bands like Soundgarden and the Stone Temple Pilots. Default’s debut album The Fallout (TVT) is just another record that follows the same formula.

Of course, Default is no Pearl Jam. The band is more like a troupe of hopelessly inept musicians seeking to emulate a style without having the vaguest understanding of it.

Hailing from Vancouver, Canada, Default is virtually an overnight success. After playing only a short time in 1999, the band was approached by TVT Records and signed to the label. From there, the band did a little rearranging – i.e. they added new bassist and took a shot at making a debut record. The result is the unfortunate release The Fallout.

Not surprisingly, the record was produced by Rick Parasher, who also produced albums by Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains. The album comes across as the result of a talented producer dealing with a group of sub-par musicians. This is what Pearl Jam’s Ten would have sounded like if no one in the band had any talent.

Tracks blend together leaving no distinct impression. Even the album’s single, “Deny,” is a painfully formulaic attempt at hard rock. Although it may not leave any physical marks, the album certainly leaves the listener with a bad taste in his mouth.

Some bands have the capacity to transition from the local scene to the big-time quickly without refining their sound. Default should have taken another couple decades to rehearse, or at least stuck to doing Alice In Chains covers on the local bar scene.

-Andrew Phillips

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