Out Here

Crocodile tears

Grand Street Cryers
Grand Street Cryers
RainMaker Records

Should the Grand Street Cryers make any kind of noise outside of Dallas, where they've already duped a whole bunch of people into thinking their outre brand of folk-pop is original, then it will be because they came along at a time when reactionary rock and roll pays the rent. They're the after-dinner mint for those gorged on alternametalhiphopunk, those who've loved it loud and now need to be lulled to sleep by something innocuous, safe. Like Jackopierce and Deep Blue Something before them, the Cryers managed to win the hearts and souls of those who like their music catchy, familiar, reassuring, and, most of all, simply melodic. For the Cryers and their khaki crowd, rock and roll isn't visceral at all; it's all about quick, surface pleasures.

It was never hard to understand why "Angie Wood" got played on local radio more than commercials--because it was hum-a-long, tap-a-long pop, the sound of Tim Locke singing with eyes wide shut while the band makes with the important rock behind him. If nothing else, you can tell these boys are earnest...and, at times, mighty pretentious, if only because Locke's vocals are so affectedly, well, sincere. Which is probably why "Angie Wood" gets yet another shot here, but still: The leap from Rhythmic to RainMaker is a lateral move at best, so the inclusion of the "hit" single on yet another record seems a bit ill-conceived. Nothing like admitting you're a one-hit wonder before you even get on a major. (Who do the Cryers think they are--Deep Blue Something?)

Actually, three songs from last year's Steady on Shaky Ground show up here among the second disc's 13, which only makes you wonder how deep is their love for writing. They're probably more into recording, anyway, since the new disc is all about sound instead of substance--the neat little effects that make you think there's more going on here than there really is, the distorted vocals and quiet-loud-quiet guitars that come from nowhere then disappear into the dark again. But in the end, it's just distracting: Better to hear the whole 50-second "country" throwdown that intros "Gone" than the song that follows, but the Cryers instead play it as a throwaway joke, burying it in the mix as though they're ashamed of it. Hell, fellas, it would have been a single for the Old 97's.

In the end, the Cryers are an ingratiating pastiche of pop's favorite/forgettable moments: I can't tell if they want to be Jackson Browne ("Tripping Wire"), Weezer ("On the Ground," and Rivers Cuomo could file a RICO suit), R.E.M. ("Right Kind of Life," but only the intro), the Beatles ("Blue Skies Black," but not really), or stoopid ("I'll give it to you hard," Locke promises on "Push Erase," and the stomach churns). The kids will like this one fine too, but some of us already know and loathe these songs by heart.

--Robert Wilonsky


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