Sunday, October 21, 2007

Review: Clyde - Blank Stares & Dialogue Reruns (2007)

Clyde [ Website | MySpace ]
Blank Stares & Dialogue Reruns

Clyde. As a band name, the moniker tends to evoke an expectation of shoe-gazing alt-rock, or at best some sort of parody band (Bigdumbface ring a bell with anyone?). Thankfully falling into neither of these categories, New York's Clyde is instead a fairly groovy modern rock band with many similarities to outfits such as Velvet Revolver, Alice In Chains, and to a lesser degree The Offspring. Formed in 2005, Clyde released an EP before booking a slew of gigs around the NYC region. After dealing with a revolving door of bass players, the band settled in to the studio to produce their debut full-length album Blank Stares & Dialogue Reruns.

Musically the band fits right in with those I've mentioned above. Groovy modern rock with downtuned riffs, conspicuous bass lines, understated rhythms, and coarse vocals is what Clyde delivers. Frontman Jody Dobson sings with a slight drawl and compares to what you'd get if you were to mesh Dexter Holland with Ozzy. At times I found his style to be reminiscent of Ozzy's cadence on early Black Sabbath releases. "Broken", the lead-off track, exhibits the band's style in its entirety. The song is mid-paced with fuzzy, chugging riffs and is heavy on the bass. The band strays from their formula a bit by including a somewhat spacey breakdown, but by & large they stick to their chosen recipe.

As the album develops, you can sense that Clyde have latched on to their blueprint and aren't about to deviate. Occasionally there will be an exception to the rule, such as the locomotive riffs and rumbling bass intro on "Never Wanted You". "Dead to the World" has a rare solo from Young Min Song, and a brief Hammond organ passage. Sean Carolan's bass is very distinctive throughout the album, giving the riffs a solid push and enhancing Jake Ninan's clean skinwork. Clyde's best original track is "I Go Alone". The main riff is not only infectious and memorable, but drives the song at a slightly faster pace than found elsewhere on the disc. The chorus has a very Stone Temple Pilots feel to it and the solo is a bit more expansive but still too brief. I mentioned this track was the best original on the disc, and I say that because the best overall track on the album is a cover of Bananarama's "Cruel Summer". Having come of age in the '80s, I can remember "Cruel Summer" being a staple on the airwaves and MTV back in the day and I still enjoy the decadent popiness of the tune. Clyde have turned that song into a blazing rock anthem that far outshines the original. From the opening buzzsaw riffs, the band blazes through the track while keeping true to the original melodies. It's also on this track that Jody starts to sound most like Dexter Holland, almost to the point where you'd think this was actually performed by The Offspring. This comparison carries into "What'd You Say?" and manages to provide a breath of fresh air to the slight stagnation found on the rest of the album - not to mention Young Min Song's best solo.

Blank Stares & Dialogue Reruns is a good album for modern rock fans who enjoy their music mid-paced and heavy. The problem with the album, other than its brevity, is the lack of variety. The band has chosen a course and sticks to it, resulting in the majority of the tracks being lost to indistinction. Where they change things up a bit, however, such as on the last two tracks and "I Go Alone", they deliver big.

Track Listing
1 Broken 3:31
2 Never Wanted You 2:55
3 Dead to the World 3:43
4 I Go Alone 3:43
5 Taken 4:30
6 Drowned 3:21
7 Cruel Summer 3:15
8 What'd You Say? 2:56
Total Runtime 27:54

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