Clearing Out the Mailroom: Tuesday, September 1, 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.

Breathe Carolina (Denver)
Hello Fascination

I've noticed that when a band refuses to list its hometown on its widget-cluttered MySpace page, it's never a good sign. It's as if a publicist has advised them that they can avoid being pegged as a local band and skip the dues-paying shitty club gigs to go right to the Warped Tour and sponsorships. That may be the intent, but it also usually signifies that the band could be from anywhere, that it won't have a single characteristic that identifies it as anything other than some prefabricated music-making machine. Breathe Carolina is no exception. The band's music is a horrid mixture of generic electronica beats with the alternating plaintive and throat-shredding vocals that characterize mall screamo. Awful, interchangeable, worthless.
I made it to: 2:00 into Track 1, "Hello Fascination"

Shrek The Musical
Original Broadway Cast Recording

I have no idea why this was sent to us. Cast member Brian d'Arcy James does a pretty good imitation of Mike Myers doing Shrek, and "Overture/Big Bright Beautiful World" is a cute origin story of the big green ogre that's true to the Shrek spirit without feeling reduntant to someone who's seen the movies. But as soon as Pinnochio starts his grating whine on "Story Of My Life," I had to punch out. Maybe my kids'll like it.
I made it to: Track 2.

Courtney Fairchild (Philadelphia, originally from Dallas)
11 Chances

A Melissa Etheridge for the next millennium, with all the grandiose singing and studio-pro rockin' guitar parts that entails. Check out her MySpace page for the most arrogant dissertation to ever misspell "its" in the history of pretentious self-penned singer-songwriter bios. My favorite part: "I came into the world in 1981 which has always seemed to be a bit of a cosmic joke. Had I been born twenty years earlier, you most likely would have run into me in Los Angeles in the '70s playing alongside songwriters who are 'more my speed' than the vast majority of my contemporaries." So sorry you're stuck outshining those other losers at Sue Ellen's and Momo's, babe.
I made it to: Track 2, "11 Chances"

The Band Of Heathens (Austin)
One Foot In The Ether

This country-folk-blues-rock combo is all over the map lyrically and musically. Track 1, "L.A. County Blues," is a pretty straightforward Americana country-folk track about desperation, drugs and missing one's native South. It's followed a couple tracks later by a southern gospel track that wouldn't be out of place on a Lyle Lovett album, then by a ramshackle Tom Waits-esque banjo track. Unfocused but fun if you're in the mood for country rock with some unpredictable tangents.
I made it to: Track 6, "You're Gonna Miss Me"

(500) Days Of Summer
Music From The Motion Picture

I'm not a fan of romantic comedies. I'm also not a fan of Regina Spektor, or any of those other "quirky" female singers who affect that weird drawl that sounds like they've got a frog in the throat and an underbite. In fact, I wonder if it might be some kind of aurally spread disorder. The doctor who names it oughtta call it Feist Syndrome. But I endured the first two tracks (the movie's introductory narration and Spektor's "Us") knowing that the rest of the soundtrack was full of British mope-rock and indie-rock more to my liking. I hadn't counted on Hall & Oates. At least I got to hear the great Doves song "There Goes The Fear" first.
I made it to: Track 7

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