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CD Reviews: American Hi-Fi, The High Speed Scene

Hearts on Parade - American Hi-Fi
Rating: 4/10
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, April 28, 2005
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Hi-Fi on 'Parade' isn't horrible

You might remember American Hi-Fi from their previous hit song "Flavor of the Week." Then again, maybe you don't because that song sucked. Well, that might be a little harsh. But these guys simply don't add anything to the music world. Their new album, Hearts on Parade, is proof that they're not only aware of this fact, they're proud of it.

Hearts on Parade isn't horrible. In fact, what the album does it does well, it just doesn't do much toward garnering respect for the band. Most songs on the album have their catchy moments, foot-tapping beats and familiar poppy hooks. It's this same familiarity, however, that ends up bringing the album down.

Every song sounds like a less impressive version of a song that you almost liked five years ago. It seems like American Hi-Fi dumped each band member's individual components into some sort of random pop machine and this little album came out on the assembly line. This particular machine is based on a proven formula, but the product ends up being too predictable.

Basically, the album takes as many risks as a man in a bubble-wrap suit bungee-jumping off his couch. This fact is laid bare with the album's first single, "The Geeks Get the Girls." This song, as you might imagine, is about how, in a perfect world, girls would be attracted to geeks with golden hearts. Thank God for original ideas (read "original" as "overused and unimaginative"). Frankly, lyrics like "even losers can get lucky sometimes/ all the freaks go on a winning streak," make me nauseous.

Hearts has a few songs that are undeniably fun to listen to, in spite of themselves. "Hell Yeah!" for instance, still sounds like you've heard it before, but it's too damn catchy to dismiss completely for its pedestrian qualities.

The ballad "Something Real" also has redeeming qualities. This song goes to show that, unlike the album's titular song, American Hi-Fi can sometimes do slower songs some justice.

It's hard to completely hate an album just because it's unoriginal and safe. American Hi-Fi certainly know what they're doing. They aren't trying to be a tidal wave in the music industry, or even a ripple, but they do seem right at home mixing into the ocean of sound-alike bands out there.

Shawn Patrick Green
Arizona Daily Wildcat

High Speed Scene is slow-witted bore

The High Speed Scene
Rating: 2/10

Do you like music? Good, that's one-half of the requirement right there. Do you like your brain? Whoops, that's too bad because one of them has to go. That is if you really want to enjoy The High Speed Scene's self-titled debut, a vacuous slice of garage-metal-stoner-thrash-punk-rock.

The High Speed Scene, a Los Angeles band, makes the kind of music that would not be entirely out of place blasting on any car stereo on Heavy Metal Parking Lot. It's music that's as loud and fast as it is youthful and dumb, which is to say extremely.

The album starts with "For the Kids," a testament to youth and making music for all the right reasons. The song rips out of the starting blocks with Max Hart's fuzzed guitar licks followed by some fairly standard pulsing drumming by Domen Vajevec and throbbing bass by Adam Aaronson. Hart's vocal style is low-key and casual, which doesn't necessarily make it easier to choke down his awkward and immature lyrics.

"I ride my BMX/ I smoke my Cali weed/ I dig on NOFX/ Rich kids on LSD."

With titles like "Assingear" and lyrics like "Fuck the biz/ It's for the kids," it doesn't take long to realize this album didn't take much thought to make. This is why it's only enjoyable when the listener gives as little effort to listening. Take "Fuck & Spend" another song sure to weed out the older crowd, but please the rest with its sharp, quick burst of anthem-esque guitar rock. It's as viscerally pleasing as it is lyrically repulsive.

"I see Death/ He drives a brand new car/ He's sitting at the bar/ He's watching all the stars/ Fuck/Fuck/Spend money."

Another problem with The High Speed Scene is their lack of musical variety. There's the funky, riff-happy "In the Know," which leads into the thumping funk of "Hello Hello," which, of course, leads into the slow-blazing funk of "Crazy * (Star)." Eventually, the funky Zeppelin-aped riffs and chops grow tiresome and the listener is left wanting more or, more likely, something with a hint of personality. This is assuming adding any intellect would be impossible.

Although these guys are consummate and entertaining live performers, who proved themselves appropriate and fun openers for the far superior, smart (!) and Scottish The Futureheads, they can't seem to bottle any of that raw, spontaneous energy on record. This makes them one of those unfortunate 'they're better live' acts.

Though album closer "All Swans" manages to show an amicable mix of restraint and explosive energy, it's too little too late to salvage this train wreck of a debut album.

One can only hope The High Speed Scene mature before recording their sophomore album. If so, they can turn their derivative and textbook grooves into something that's more than just padding for their banal and embarrassingly youthful lyrics. If not, their music will be best left to the mindless.

Michael Petitti
Arizona Daily Wildcat

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