Hootie and the Blowfish try too hard

By Jason Fierstein

Arizona Daily Wildcat

If Hootie and the Blowfish were analogous to their deep South crawdaddy counterparts, they would be overcooked and rotting by now. Based in the South's richly cultured cradle for great music of the past, the quartet has tried a little bit too hard with their rookie debut, Cracked Rear View.

With a name like "Hootie and the Blowfish," how could you go wrong? Hootie, led by vocalist Darius Rucker, provides a worthy effort with Rear View, offering the audience a sampler sense of good ol', down-home jamboree. But deeper into the album the songs begin to show their ugly heads.

Hootie's entry-level breakthrough track on the radio charts, "Hold My Hand," flows smoothly and rhythmically with help from tambourines and backup vocals by David Crosby, of Crosby, Stills and Nash. As a car-driving song, you can kick your feet back and soak in Rucker's smooth-flavored and chocolate-rich voice. But the redundancies soon materialize. When the lyrics are easily memorized after only hearing them once or twice, long walks to class turn into annoying, incessant hummings of "Hold my hand / I want you to hold my hand / hold my hand . I wanna love you the best that, the best that I can ."

Hootie's Cracked Rear View is a very jingly, catchy piece of work. Rucker's Cajun-flavored pipes could have worked in most any band, and he just happened to land a singing role in Hootie with the rest of the Blowfish. "Let Her Cry," the third track on Cracked Rear View, is a touchy-feely song that should be on the soundtrack of some romantic movie. It emits a sense of tenderness, but, more specifically, a kind of cheesy tenderness that would be appropriately used in a really mediocre television show like Fox's bust, "The Heights."

The album Cracked Rear View is a semi-solid, far-from-tour-de-force attempt by the South Carolinan blues rockers. All of the elements are intact for another Hootie and the Blowfish effort, but Rucker and the gang of fish need not refer back to the blueprints of stupid lyrics and wanna-be sounds to create authentic Southern blues rock in the future. The fans can see through it, Hootie.

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