Clearing Out the Mailroom: Tuesday, June 2, 2009

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 four or five at a time and play each CD for as long as I can stand it.

The Jones' (Dallas)
down in my dreams

Frat-friendly acoustic Americana. The Jones' is the kind of band that uses an acoustic bass; not a stand-up, but a guitar-shaped bass--rarely a good sign. Perhaps that's a nod to one obvious inspiration, The Old 97's. The Jones' have a similar sound, except that they manage somehow to be at once less country AND less rock 'n' roll. Subtracting the twang, the grit and the clever lyrics from the Old 97's rootsy pop formula doesn't leave much, I'm afraid. But perhaps I was biased against this band because of the stupid apostrophe.
I made it to: Track 4, "I'll Walk Away"

Deva Premal (Germany)
into silence

Deva Premal and her life partner, Miten, set ancient Hindu chants to soothing, quiet New Age accompaniment, heavy on the synthesized strings. Track 1, "Aad Guray," actually sounds something like a Muzak version of Sigur Ros. It's very relaxing, and I'm sure the energy that incarnates as an avatar to guide us is pleased. I, on the other hand, am bored.
I made it to: Track 3, "Gate Gate"

311 (Omaha, Nebraska)

If "Hey You" is the best these guys could come up with for a lead single, they are struggling. What a boring song, a cliche-filled love letter set to mid-tempo ska-tinged rock with those crunchy, over-processed guitars. "Hey you, you're my constant com-pan-ion / You always let me explain just what I'm sayin', and we've just begun." We've just begun, and I'm already tired of the CD. Of course, I've been tired of the band ever since that stupid "Down" song. But judging by the latest comment on this article calling the song "one of the worst songs I've heard in years," even fans of the band think it's awful.
I made it to: 1:23 into Track 1.

War Tapes (Los Angeles)
The Continental Divide

Even though it only shows the band members from feet to just below chest-level, the back cover photo tells the story of this group pretty well. The three dudes all wear tight skinny black jeans. A black leather jacket, Chuck Taylors, combat boots and granny shoes all make an appearance. Best of all is that it captures three of the four band members affecting a pigeon-toed stance, because surely you as a teenager or young adult can relate to such awkward self-consciousness. The music is goth-tinged '80s pop distinguished only by the  baritone vocals.
I made it to: Track 3

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