Agents of the Sun, Aurora

Agents of the Sun, Aurora

Agents of the Sun are pretty lucky — they never had to languish in the local scene for years, jockeying with Creed wannabes for a remote chance to make it big. Within eight weeks of forming, they scored an opening slot with Trust Company. Three months later, they landed a deal with a DC-area indie label and started filling their calendar with opening slots for bands like 3 Doors Down, Saliva, and Cold. Jaded scenesters might dismiss the success of this Baltimore-area band as beginner’s luck, but the band’s debut release Aurora is energetic and surprisingly polished.

Despite the awkward graphic design on the disc jacket, Aurora earns an adjective that not many nascent bands can hang on their demos: professional. Layers of distorted guitars mix seamlessly without obscuring vocal harmonies. Lead singer Ray Dobson takes a cue or two from the sometimes-nasal, often-brash Billie Joe Armstrong, but the band has more in common with FM-radio hard-rock bands (the ones that spell their names like “Staind” or “Puddle of Mudd”) than pop-punk bands like Green Day.

Backing vocals from Frankie Hernandez and Ralph Rodriguez keep the main vocal line from fading out against a wall of distortion, but the crunchy guitar lines and the three-part harmonies can’t hide the fact that the lyrics are ordinary at most — and, for the most part, accusatory in that typical angst-rock way: “You turned me inside out / How could you?”; “Blame it on me / Blame it on me”; “All this time / All this time wasted.” Agents of the Sun take great liberties with repetition, to the point where their songs are catchy enough for me to actually remember the lyrics but then feel cheated because the lyrics are so dull. Why is it that rap-rock bands, as well as bands that do without the rap part (like this one), only seem to sing about conflicted rage? With Aurora, Agents of the Sun prove that they do indeed deserve to share stages with the major label rock bands they open for, but the band would do well to plumb deeper emotional territory on their next record.

(DCide Records -- 1926 14th Street, NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, DC. 20009;; Agents of the Sun --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Wednesday, December 1st, 2004. Filed under Reviews.

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