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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Alien Crime Syndicate - Dust to Dirt & From the Word Go

Name: Alien Crime Syndicate
Albums: Dust to Dirt~ From the Word Go*
Year: 2000~*
Style: Alt Rock
Similar Bands: OK Go, Weezer, Foo Fighters, Lit, Dramarama
"One-Word" Review: Frat-Boy-Fist-Pumping
Based Out Of: San Francisco, CA
Label: Collective Fruit~, Will Records*, ADA*, WEA*, Time Warner*
~Dust to Dirt - Cover, CD, CD Case
~ Dust to Dirt - Notes, Lyrics, Tray Picture
* From the Word Go - Cover, CD, Back
* From the Word Go - Notes, Lyrics, CD Tray

~Dust to Dirt (2000)
  1. Take Me to Your Leader 3:51
  2. What I Said 3:41
  3. Outerspace 3:44
  4. Some Kind of Way 3:24
  5. I Want It All 3:12
  6. Tripping Up to the Clouds 3:54
  7. Nothing Beats the Surf In 2:12
  8. Do It Again 2:46
  9. Pimpin the Land 3:15
  10. Here With You 3:47
  11. Always Running 3:39
  12. Atmosphere 3:54
*From the Word Go (2000)
  1. Take Me to Your Leader 3:52
  2. Land We Made Up 3:13
  3. Supergirl 3:25
  4. When I Get Home 3:54
  5. Outerspace 3:46
  6. Always Running 3:45
  7. Trippin' Up to the Clouds 3:55
  8. In A Dream 3:18
  9. Atmosphere 3:50
  10. Another Time 3:52
  11. Everything Around 4:21
  12. Earthgirls Are Cool 4:18
  13. Revolving 4:20
Album Review (1-10): ~7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Jeff Rouse - Bass, Vox~*Recording* (Loaded, Vendetta Red, Sirens Sister)
Joe Reineke - Vox, Guitars~*, Producer, Mixing~,Recording* (the Meices)
Jason Krevey - Guitars, Vox~* (U Catastrophe)
Nabil Ayers - Drums~* (Long Winters)
Jon Ervie - Assistant Engineer~
Jim DeVito - Mixing
Howie Weinberg - Mastering~*
Gil Norton - Arrangement~Producer, Mixer*
Barbara Mitchell - Publicity~
Jason Sutherland - Design~
Karen Mason Blair - Photos~*
Debera Heesch - CDI Footage~
Scott Corl - Editor of Footage~
Ben Hillier - Engineer, Mixer*
Wade Goeke - Assistant Engineer*
Toby Miller - Assistant Engineer*
Chris Frankfort - Assistant Engineer*
Don Gilmore - Mixed*
Shawn Trudeau - Recording*
Lisa Socransky - Legal*
Anne Dixon - Design*
Josh Gundling - Enhanced Video*

Unknownness: I've never really heard of these guys...but their name and imagery reminds me of something between 311 & Alien Ant Farm, that I can't help but imagine them to be huge douchebags. They have a greasy clean cut look that came off as very superficial back in 2000, which is when these albums are from. The albums have a large number of the same songs, so perhaps one album was self funded and one was a major label release. I'm not looking forward to these albums based on my preconceived stereotype notions. I mean, what's with the "go" cover of hands, a bright light and bills falling from the sky? It is just stupid.

Album Reviews: So apparently, this is the first album they recorded before having their label go under. So they packed up & went to Seattle and recorded a second debut record. Five songs are the same on version 2, so I can leave them out of the second review.

*“Take Me to Your Leader” is quite poppy and catchy, reminding me of a heavier Fountains of Wayne or OK Go. It has a very OK Go chorus of “Here we go” in echoing repetition. But the metal guitars are much heavier than either band would dare produce. It is a shame that the song is based on something so cheesy and tacky as aliens, though.“Land We Made Up” has a nice beat at the outset, but the vocals don’t sound as confident as the music would require. Eventually it balances out at the repeating chorus, with the added texture of horns. It again feels like it could be an OK Go song, just played a little heavier and dirtier, and not quite as daring.
“Supergirl” is quieter and suspicious sounding. It gives a crafty feel and dare I say the vocals sound like Ok Go again? Perhaps that’s the only comparison I can make because it’s in my head. The singing is actually just rhythmic talking over the verse, and the chorus is repetitive and sung with a group vocal effort.
“When I Get Home” is more of a straightforward alt-rock song. This could be a Gin Blossoms song or something equally mundane as that. The majority of the song is not as heavy as the first two songs, but there are a few times when the guitar wails in the background. But again, it’s got a very repetitive chorus.
“Outerspace” has the chugging guitar driving the song on. The vocals are melodic, but not too interesting. The chorus’s shining characteristic is a group effort shouting “Space.” It is kid of meandering song, never really finding its style. Lots of variations are thrown into each verse, but it sounds tried and predictable rather than complex.
“Always Running” begins with a quiet keyboard. And is interrupted with a ringing guitar. The structure of the song is emo, with short sections broken up by pauses which reemerge with an emotional strum. It kinda feels like a Third Eye Blind song.

*“Trippin' Up to the Clouds” is a light pop ballad until the chorus hits. And for a brief moment, it leaves the Goo Goo Dolls boredom and rocks out. The vocals remind me a bit of Dramarama and Soul Asylum. But it is not as good of a song. The instrumental bridge feels like it is going to peter out and just go on forever, but it blasts back in with an injection of power chorus.
“In A Dream” starts with a dancy drumloop, which I guess is the dream that this song is trying to paint. It has nothing to do with the rest of the song. The rest is all power guitars and washed out sound that mimics a dream state. The end of the song builds with increasingly volume whiny guitars.
“Atmosphere” is a constantly building and chugging along song, with more of the Drama-Asylum style vocals. The chorus has a bit of harmonized vocals. And by the second chorus, the guitars explode and shimmer down to the original pitter patter melody.
“Another Time” has an angular dance pop groove that all the kids loved with the Franz Ferdinand. But that fades out after 30 seconds. The pace of the song is fun and bouncy; the melody is kind of catchy. But the vocals are too emo for the song to be considered good.
“Everything Around” starts with a buzzing bee guitar sound. The vocals are whisper-distorted spoken. The spell is broken with the emo call and response chorus. This is what I’d expect to hear on the crappy radio now-a-days.
“Earthgirls Are Cool” has drums and deep bass start it off, distorted, reverbed vocals follow up with a spacey Zooropa vibe. It is liquid and minimal, yet there are a slew of effects that are shot through the song as it progresses. It feels like they just bought a shiny new synthesizer and wanted to put all the cool effects one at a time over the standard drum bass loop. Like a big declaration “This is the shit we’re capable of.” But it is not that exciting.
“Revolving” returns us back to the hard power rock. It is a nicely crafted song, all the spaces are filled with grungy guitars and a bold, cocky vocal melody. Reminds me of a band I liked a lot growing up Fig Dish. This feels like it is right off of a 1996 debut record. The vocals remind me of Dramarama again.

~“Take Me to Your Leader” – see previous album.
“What I Said” continues with the same feeling as the prior song. It’s sung a bit more like a chili peppers song in parts. But it is not as fun or straightforward as track one. It is produced like it is meant to be a 311 song, but does not have any identity of its own like 311 has.
“Outerspace” – see previous album
“Some Kind of Way” begins with jangely guitars and launches into a bland alterna-folk song. The bass in the bridge sounds somewhat like New Order, but only because it has the same sound. The chorus is actually really catchy and deserves a better song.
“I Want It All” has a siren like guitar at the outset. But it stops after 15 minutes and is exchanged for a whiny pop song. Kinda reminds me of weezer or the Rentals, but they are both more competent bands in their prime. The chorus is a cutesy repetition of the title, and it is even brought back into the verse, punctuating each line the second time around. This takes us back to a comparison of OK Go. It is that level of pop, but is not afraid to add heavier guitars. The cutesy repetition gets annoying, but it cuts off abruptly before it reaches the point of skipping ahead.
“Tripping up to the Clouds” – see previous album
“Nothing Beats the Surf In” is a lighter nasally sung song, it starts with a nice sounding beach boys guitar (which returns with the start of each verse). It sounds a lot like this local band I like called Echo Obiter. Then it gets a little more aggressive, and the chorus kicks in with pop-punk power. I get a hint of Goldfinger here, but with nasally polite vocals, rather than aggressive angry vocals.
“Do It Again” kicks off with a wah-wah guitar version of the Breeder’s Cannonball. Then it changes direction to a chugging, building rock song. The wah-wah effect is brought back periodically, as the simple chorus repeats.
“Pimpin the Land” carries the wah wah guitar effect over, but it is layered in the background. This album is definitely more pop punk than before. The tempo is quick and the guitars accent the time changes typical to a punk song design.
“Here With You” has a music box like keyboard start off. The music is slow, but the drum beat is quicker, noting that the song will become faster or bolder at least in the future. And bolder it becomes. The guitars come in and are played like they are climbing a latter of melody: one rung = one strum at a time. This reminds me of Soul Asylum’s middle era work, right before they got big with that MTV hit. The chorus is a little emo.
“Always Running” – see previous album
“Atmosphere” – see previous album

Stand-Out Track: ~ Nothing Beats the Surf In


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