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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
The Melismatics
Postmodern Rock
Hygh Tension Records

Rating: NR/10 ?

October 1, 2004
If you ever want to catch a glimpse of pure genius, pick up a copy of The Melismatics' Postmodern Rock and pop it into your computer. Your screen will fill with a promo shot of the band, and you'll notice that Ryan Smith (The Melismatics' frontman) looks exactly like the youngest of the Hanson brothers, age-enhanced. It's uncanny. (He thinks he looks like Kurt Cobain, but that's another story altogether). And the guy with the goofy glasses (Jeremy Ylvisaker, I think, who is the band's guitarist) looks a lot like some sort of human bug. But that won't phase you. You'll click the link entitled video and watch the beauty unfold in a music video for the albums opener, "Can't Relate".

The scene opens with a glimpse of the band and Ryan with his Hanson hair and guitar. The camera gives some shots of his "classmates" all sitting, bored in detention. The teacher likes like a football coach and is angry. Just like in high school! The camera will shortly cut to Ryan's face, singing and looking beautiful. Girls, here's your heartthrob! Then kids start dancing in their chairs. Even the cheerleaders are waving their pompoms! Ryan enters the room, slapping hands. The ultra-cool rebel, the Fonze of the 21st century, complete with leather jacket and other Rain-of-Our-Lady-Peace tough-guy gear. Then loudspeaker calls the teacher out of the room. He is angry (still), pounds on his desk and exits. The music continues and the kids go crazy! They're picking up desks and dancing like maniacs. This goes on for a while until the teacher returns and does not know what to do! He tries to calm them down, but can't. We all know what to do in a situation like that. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! And that's exactly what he does, dancing like the rest of them. This music video does a wonderful job of showing not only how music can bring us together, but also how music can provide for a rockin' good time!

Yeah. It's awful.

But an album review cannot simply address a music video for one song (silly children!), so let us talk a bit about the music. "Can't Relate" is that shocking opener, that upbeat, in-your-face tune the kids these days just love! "At school I see the people walking by/ I can't bring myself to look them in the eye/ I read my books and I keep my thoughts to myself/ I take their shit, but I keep my angst on a shelf." It appeals to the dancing, nerdy loner in everyone. Is that in everyone, though? Or anyone? I really doubt it. Emo kids who like to party might want to check this out though. "Turn Inside Out" sounds a lot like Stroke-9 and includes lyrics about someone who always tries to do the right thing, but still gets ridiculed. ""Like People" follows, another tracking using an upbeat voice to broadcast some downbeat feeling, this time reminiscing, "I remember when I used to like people/ that was strange." Here the band incorporates more of a new-wave sound, attesting to the bit of versatility they muster up throughout the album. "Mir or Pirror" is Capital K-esque, completely electronic without vocals, and does the same thing.

The unfortunately-titled "Laza Beam" (no, that wasn't a mistype) is probably one of the worst songs on the album, but it is forgotten (almost, kind of) with "Learning to Walk Away," a catchy track made great by the addition of female vocals.

Any band with such a ridiculous music video and song to go with it (not to mention songs entitled "Phase Shifta/ Orbit Rate of Bit Rate/ Phase Shifta Reprise") really needs something to save it from being labeled completely and irredeemably awful. That something about the Melismatics is their probably their versatility. Thank god for that. That's all you can do. Their tracks that differ most from "Can't Relate" (see "Mir or Mirror" or "Like People") are their best (except "Speaking in Tongues." Uggh!)

Reviewed by Jeanette Samyn
A contributing writer for LAS and a former music director WBAR at Barnard College.

See other reviews by Jeanette Samyn



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