Hi 90 / Lo 68
|Volume 69, Issue 18,
Thursday, September 18, 2003
Arts & Entertainment
'Rotation' embraces change
By Zach Lee
Change. It's something we fear, but it's also an inescapable part of life. 2Pac said it's "just the way it is -- things'll never be the same."
Pac may be the only influence that doesn't show on its new CD, The Big Fear, but Common Rotation embraces everything change has to offer. The band's name is an acknowledgement of the numerous lineup changes that have taken place already in the its short history. Singer/songwriter Eric Kufs and second vocalist Adam Busch are the only two constants. Primetime TV fans may recognize Busch as the sinister Warren on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." On this CD, Prof. Ken Beck and Mike Uhler round out the cast playing drums and bass, respectively.
Each of the two vocalists has his own style to add to the mix. One (since they are both listed as singing each song, it's not clear who is who) has a distinctly pop voice, and the other sings with an undeniably country twang. Combined, they add a new dimension to the music, which isn't terribly great by itself. "Indie Rockin'" is much closer than the rest of the album to pop music, and the choppy guitars in the chorus sound like evidence that the band committed the unforgivable sin of ripping off Good Charlotte. As a whole, the sound is hard to describe, though it has spawned comparisons to The Barenaked Ladies. The band's Web site (www.commonrotation.com) calls it "intelligent, eclectic acoustic guitar-driven pop music," but background fiddles on several songs make it impossible for an accurate description to leave out the country influence. Even then, the description leaves out the obvious reggae flavor in "Sit Down."
"Indie Rockin'," hangs on as one of the CDs better songs, along with "Prime Time" and a country-flavored cover of They Might Be Giants' "Don't Let's Start."
The lyrics of "Post Modern" are interesting, even in the long chorus. The lyrics begin by metaphorically moving classical arts aside for television (more change), and they go on to speak of dismay at artistic pretension. "I'm getting tired of discussing the poetry of your second act/psychoanalyzing just how I'll react/to your latest creation. It's delusional grandeur/I switch on the TV because I can't stand to look at you."
Other than that, there's nothing too impressive about the album or the band. The liner notes consist of "long winded beatnik-type list of unrelated metaphors." That's what it calls itself, and it's all too true -- pretty lame.
All said, Common Rotation is a very singular band, not falling directly into any of the molds prepared for new musical talent. Instead, it pulls off a combination of several types of music that stretches across many musical boundaries. The band's only real problem is that they may be trying a bit too hard to be artists. Even some of their light-hearted style comes across as forced, but that's the nature of change -- sometimes it has to be forced.
The Big Fear
The verdict: Embrace the future.
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