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CD Reviews: The Features, The Shore, Travis Morrison

Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday, September 30, 2004
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The Features - Exhibit A
5 out of 10

In this crazy, mixed-up world of borderline garage rock (but not quite indie and certainly not emo music), there are bands that create and bands that recreate.

The Features are suckling at the teat of past and current creators like The Shins, The Strokes and The Flaming Lips. They are suckling so hard, in fact, that they are actually producing OK results.

I don’t mind when bands sound like their inspirations, unless they become carbon copies and less quality than the original. This album feels like I am looking at a copy made with too much toner. And then the toner gets on my fingers. And goddamn it, it won’t come off!

You know when you pop in a CD and there’s that one song you always skip no matter what? Well, that song is “Blow It Out.” Avoid it at all costs. Unless you think, “If you’re happy and you know it/ turn the volume up and blow it out” is poetry. It’s so catchy with trite lyrics that, after a once-around, will get stuck in your head for days. Its resemblance to the instructional song that always played at Skateland in fifth grade will force you to skip it every time.

You know when you pop in a CD and there’s that one song you always skip to, no matter what? Well, that song is “Leave it All Behind.” The song starts without much promise, but quickly evolves into a well-written, well-played love ballad. It’s not too catchy, but certainly memorable.

In a country with 80 bajillion musical possibilities, it’s a little sad to see so many people drinking from other people’s taps. Find your own, goddamn it. Then we can talk.

— Celeste Meiffren

The Shore - The Shore
4 out of 10

Isn’t it nice when a new album starts out with a pretty decent song? But doesn’t it suck when every other track on the album has to sound exactly like it? The latter question obviously didn’t pass through Madonna’s mind, or the minds of her fellow Maverick executives, who let this latest Coldplay-wannabe band release an album.

This trio from Silver Lake, Calif., somehow got into bed with the Material Girl-turned-badass-mama and managed to do it without even knowing how to perform well. Shocker.

I’ll admit, the Shore’s lead singer, Ben Ashley, does sound a lot like The Verve’s Richard Ashcroft. But besides the fact that they both have “Ash” in their names, this is where the comparisons end. In fact, after a while, Ashley’s voice becomes just plumb annoying. And just look at the way that loser tries to pose in an Ashcroft stance on the album’s cover.

Again, the album starts out well with “Hard Road,” but unfortunately the rest of the album just doesn’t move past the same groove, the same cookie-cutter melodies and that insipid singing voice.

Even the lyrics on each track tend to blend into some formulaic vortex of clichéd songwriting, with lyrics like, “I’ve been chasin’ you down …” (“Hard Road”), “I’ve been losing these days …” (“Take What’s Mine”) and “I’ve been livin’ all these years …” (“Hold On”). Enough said.

— Kylee Dawson

Travis Morrison - Republic of Travistan
2 out of 10

Travis Morrison was originally the lead singer of The Dismemberment Plan, but since the band’s breakup he has decided to punish us all by going solo.

Republic of Travistan includes 13 songs (four of which are the same song, “Get Me Off of This Coin,” in different versions) with lyrics written by Morrison and no help from his former bandmates to write music. The best thing about the CD is that most of the songs do not exceed one minute and the cover is pretty creative, with a map of Travistan and stats.

Back when he was in Dismemberment Plan, Morrison was praised for having creative lyrics that focused on themes like injustice, morality and mortality. But most of his solo album is full of poor attempts to make fun of politics, history and religion while rhyming. When not rhyming, he is stating mundane and obvious facts, like his revolutionary notion that “people die” in the song titled the same.

Most of the songs are not backed by any interesting instrumentation. Instead, the album is full of synthesized sound effects and random talking or other commentary.

Please spare yourself the money, time and pain that listening to this CD would cause. If you are interested in hearing it, try singing some prose or your random thoughts while bumping into things and banging kitchen utensils together.

- Autumn T. Johnson

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