Best of Active Days, Driving Themes

Best of Active Days, Driving Themes

I was prepared to give Best of Active Days a reasonably positive review after an initial, inattentive listen. There’re some nice chunky-sounding bits in the first song that brought the Fall to mind, and other bits here and there that reminded me of the early-’90s indie-rock era I’m perpetually nostalgic for (even if I think about Pitchblende, the Raymond Brake, or Thinking Fellers Union Local 282 more often than I actually listen to them). The sound was a bit all over the place, the tunes didn’t quite hook me, but they definitely rated to the level of “band I’d make a point of showing up for early if they were opening for someone,” which is more of an honor to me than it may sound like to you. All in all, it seemed like Driving Themes showed pretty solid potential for a first album.

The only catch, as I discovered flipping through the press notes, is that it’s their fourth. And on a repeated listen, all I could hear was the faults — they don’t have a consistent sound, they crib from Pavement way too often, the lyrics aren’t that great, the vocal charisma isn’t there, etc. They may still have some greatness yet to reveal themselves — after all, in the era of CD-as-demo-tape, four albums may represent as much work on songwriting as a lot of bands used to have put in before their first album — but if I were a betting man, I’d be taking my money off the table. Still, if you’re nostalgic for the early ’90s, check this one out if you find it in a bargain bin — maybe it’ll click for you the way it didn’t for me.

(Paradeco Records -- 219 Queen Anne Ave. N. #308, Seattle, WA. 98109; http://www.paradeco.com/; NONE)
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Review by . Review posted Wednesday, June 28th, 2006. Filed under Reviews.

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