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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
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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
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Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
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Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
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Lisbon
Fat Possum
Halifax
A Writer's Reference EP
Drive-Thru Records

Rating: 3/10 ?


April 13, 2005
If you don't think cloning is evil, you haven't heard Halifax. Already made in the image of every commercial pop-punk band that's ever had an invite to play on the Van's Warped Tour, Halifax made all the right emo moves. They signed to Drive-Thru Records and found a home for their swooning, sugary sound. Immediately, cash signs rolled up in management's eyes and a jackpot of coins shot out of their mouths.

A Writer's Reference is Halifax's debut EP, which Drive-Thru Records thought worthy of a re-release. It's a pillow fight of simple chord progressions, predictable loud-soft dynamics, live-fast-or-die drums and harmonic dual-guitar convergences - see the driving title track - straight out of the Poison songbook.

If you like hooks, it's got an SUV full of them. And just like that horrible abomination of a vehicle, Halifax tips over every time it swerves to avoid clichés. "Scarlet Letter II" is the obligatory ballad of hurt, only it takes a violent turn, becoming sort of a stalker's revenge fantasy. "Cough, cough, cough it up/have you lost your breath or maybe that's me tearing out your lungs," sings Mike Hunau over heart-wrenching electric guitar. It gets worse when he asks, "Tell me how it feels to know that this is just my dream and it's your, (sic, or should I say 'sick') reality."

It's unforgivable, especially in light of the album's title - frankly, I don't Halifax is capable of making such a self-deprecating jibe. So I'm going to assume they're serious - which is bad news for Jessica Simpson. Now every fraternity boy with Microsoft Word on his computer has a source to turn to for writing her dopey love letters.

To be fair, A Writer's Reference is undeniably catchy, but it's such an obvious grab for commercial appeal that you can't even give them points for that. Every song could be a hit, though it'd likely only have a shelf-life of minutes, not days. "The Next Two Weeks" would be my pick, but only by default. It generates a good head of steam after a dreamy - at least by their standards - intro, and the guitars switch gears into mid-tempo drive that builds something akin to tension. And there's a languid sincerity, however briefly it comes, to the screaming vocals in the chorus, although you could make an argument that it sounds forced and I wouldn't disagree.

What we have here is counterfeit Taking Back Sunday or Yellowcard, and if all you want is something to confirm your teenage pathos, then go ahead and buy shares in Halifax. Drive-Thru's stock will go up a few points and they'll roll around in a pile of money strewn about on their silk-sheeted beds. If you want some advice, though, try Green Day instead. Their anger is more righteous, Billy Joe's guitars are a thousands times more powerful and Dookie is still pretty funny. I'll get off my high horse now.

Reviewed by Peter Lindblad
Peter Lindblad lives in Appleton, Wis., and bleeds green and gold just like all the Packer fan nutjobs in the area. He does draw the line at wearing blocks of chedder on his head, or any other body parts for that matter, though. His professional career has taken weird twists and turns that have led him to his current position as an editor at a coin magazine. He hopes his stay there will be a short one. Before that, he worked as an associate editor at a log home magazine. To anyone that will listen, he\'ll swear that Shiner was one of the greatest rock bands to ever walk the earth. Yet he also has much love for Superchunk, Spoon, DJ Shadow, Swervedriver, Wilco, Fugazi, Jawbox, ... And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Modest Mouse, among others.

See other reviews by Peter Lindblad

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