Clearing Out The Mailroom: Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

We've got quite a backlog of CDs we've never gotten around to, so we're going to try to chip away at the pile with this regular feature. The plan: to take a few at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.

Serj Tankian & the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra
Elect the Dead Symphony

Looks like the enigmatic frontman for arena hard-rockers System of a Down has found a way to occupy himself during the band's hiatus. Using material from his previously released solo album, Elect the Dead, Tankian continues to display his flair for dramatic arrangements. But the album, which hit as high as No. 2 on the classical album sales charts, never really climbs above its novelty status. Oh, and it possesses some serious monotony. If Tankian were to have taken away a few thousand strings, he would've likely had a very interesting acoustic album on his hands. But here, with Tankian's caterwaul and the relatively calm orchestral instrumentation that doesn't seem to be able to keep up, it feels more like two pretty decent but separate items that just don't fit very well together. I mean, peanut butter and a leather bound copy of Leaves of Grass are both swell and all, but I won't be slapping the two together on a sandwich anytime soon.
Made it to: The end of track four, "Lie, Lie, Lie."

Be in Love

The second LP from pop-rockers Locksley is also the second in the "bunch of tunes that sound the same-series" that I am featuring this week (evidently). There isn't much here to get overly passionate about, either way. The Wisconsin quartet, led by the Brothers Laz (Jesse and Jordan) call their sound doo-wop punk. Sadly for them, that self-appointed label sounds far more interesting than the actual product of this alleged genre. Jesse Laz's Costello-meets-the-dude-from-Girls-style vocals are engaging, but just as with the sunny, ramshackle garage-light sounds on the rest of the tunes I made it through, it's all just a skosh too cute. By the time I made it to "One More Minute", the album's third track, I realized that I simply couldn't go one minute more either.
Made it to: 1:20 into track three, "One More Minute"

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MC Frontalot
Zero Day

The latest album from nerdcore pioneer Damien Hess is a great example of why nerdcore is fun--and also why the niche genre isn't taken terribly seriously by 99.9 percent of the world. Take, for example, the track "Jaqueline Floyd." Mixing classic, nerdy subject matter like a love of video games (or a PS2, in this instance) with drum-machine-generated bongo beats and a little sax, the album's third track is a legitimate hip-hop number, regardless of whether there is a pocket protector on the rapper's shirt. Throw in some electronic, video game-style beeps and bells along with some auto-tuned background vocals, and the key elements are truly in place. After a few tracks, however, Frontalot's sense of irony gets the better of him. In an effort to be fresh, he begins to stale quickly. At times, specifically with "Disaster," Hess gets lazy and sounds more like he's trying his darndest to remake the theme to The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air--which, perhaps, is an unwitting nerdcore trail-blazing tune ahead of its time, maybe?
Made it to: The end of track seven, "Disaster."

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