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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Rotten Love
One Little Indian

Rating: 5/10 ?

September 9, 2005
Ten songs equate to nearly 30 minutes of music on Levy's first full length effort, Rotten Love, and at the end, one is left feeling as though he has listened to nothing at all. This is not to say that the music of this quartet is offensive or necessarily even bad, but moreso the group does little to go beyond what has already been done in an increasingly crowded pack of bland indie/alterno rock bands.

From the beginning of the album-titled, lead track Levy immerses its listener into a field of overused musical conventions and uninspired ideas and sounds. The group tries too hard to be lethargic and coolly confident and ends up biting off pieces of the Stokes, Shout Out Louds, Coldplay and the like in the meantime.

Levy employs the idea that the individual musicians as well as the collective don't have to be that talented to try to play good music. Look at the group's admired influences - Morrissey, Joy Division and surely the aforementioned three groups - capable songwriters all, but not necessarily the most technical players in the game. For what it's worth, this approach often does result from theme-focused musicians whose lyrical and musical theories are dialed in. Rotten Love just seems to be the aim of a bored band that still wants to keep playing.

Songs like "On the Dance Floor" foul by becoming a Coldplay-meets-Shout Out Louds ripoff. In this particular tune, the drummer plays a tired 4/4 on floor tom and snare as the guitars repeatedly bounce on a clean chord, like a record skipping, and progress to euphoric places through chord arrangements that Chris Martin has all but patented. Singer James Levy takes the idea of a fun, carefree dancefloor music and turns it into a place where he finds a girl and becomes pensive. "Do you mind/me renting your time/for one nickel and a dime" is a sampling of what J. Levy thinks is a song-worthy conversation between two fictitious characters who shouldn't be falling in love. Credit can be given to taking a love story and making it slightly original, but then again it's a made-up love song - something that has previously been done uncountable times.

Maybe this is just a case of being victims of circumstance; in a different time and place, Rotten Love could be noteworthy as an album that takes simple guitar licks, middling tempos and humbled, emotionally toughened vocal stylings and makes them their own. Unfortunately for the aims of Levy, their effectiveness is softened by their lack of originality, capability and general excitement.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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