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Monday, January 29, 2007

We speak in different voices

I make no secret about how much I love At the Drive-In. I make no secret about how influential this band was in its day and is still influential. Every time I see a video for a band featuring five skinny guys in tight clothing, singing songs with shouting/singing vocals and noodly guitar lines, I revert back to those guys from Hell Paso. Yes, that band who was seriously considered a shoe-in for rock royalty but is now thought of as a "Oh well, they broke up too soon" band.

Since '01, many bands have (knowingly or unknowingly) aped the formula At the Drive-In did so well (which can be traced back to a number of bands on Gravity Records). So when I heard a song (and saw its video) from a highly-touted young band, I couldn't help think they owe some sort of debt. But this band supposedly has an "it" factor. After giving the song a few listens, I'm still asking myself: what's so great about Saosin?

I might be reading into this, but I wonder what their charm is over all sorts of other bands just like them. A hotly-tipped band for a few years, the band has sold a lot of copies of their EPs and self-titled debut album. Saosin's lead-off single "Voices" has a really catchy chorus, but this is definitely not a song that will crossover beyond the emo/screamo crowd. Yes, it's nice to hear lead singer Cove Reber sing clearly and not have any of the other band members scream like Kyle Bishop from Grade. But what gives?

One of the sharpest criticisms I've heard about At the Drive-In is they didn't write pop songs. No, "One Armed Scissor" is not like "Surrender" or even "Smells Like Teen Spirit." Maybe its the noodly guitar lines and the syncopated rhythms, but it's not unlistenable anarchy. There's plenty to love in the melody department.

So I wonder this: should major labels just give up the ghost and move onto something else? Hasn't there been enough damage with all these screamo bands? Or are they going to keep milking the cow until after the cow's dried up?

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