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Thursday, January 13, 2011

(the) Cringe - Scratch The Surface

Name: (the) Cringe
Album: Scratch the Surface
Year: 2003
Style: Alternative Rock
Similar Bands: Live, STP, Collective Soul, Sponge, Seven Mary Three
"One-Word" Review: Met-ernative
Based Out Of: NYC
Label: Listen Records Inc.
Scratch the Surface - Cover, Back, CD
Scratch the Surface - Inside & CD Tray

Scratch the Surface (2003)
  1. Another Day 3:48
  2. Burn 4:14
  3. Too Many Problems 4:25
  4. Kiss Me When You're Dead 4:39
  5. I Don't Know 2:23
  6. Grave 6:39
  7. Been Alone 3:54
  8. Life That You Choose 4:12
  9. Empty Table 3:47
  10. Far Away 2:13
  11. Song 13 1:19
  12. On and On 3:33
  13. Blood 4:54
Album Rating (1-10): 6.0

Members & Other Bands:
John Cusimano - Vox, Guitars, Producer
Rob Levin - Lead guitar
Matt Powers - Bass
Shawn Pelton - Drums
Steve Eigner - Guitar
Steve Hardy - Engineer & Mixing
John Adler - Assistant Recording
Shinobu Mitsuoka - Assistant Recording
Kris Lewis - Recording Assistant
Kaori Kinoshita - Mixing Assistant
Andy VanDette - Mastering
Chris Gorman - Spacemen Photography

Unknowness: I've never heard of this band. It was part of the cast off package I received. From the band name (it does, in fact, make me cringe) and the lo-fi production of the packaging, my first reaction is some kind of heavy rock/metal. Then I checked out the songs and their lengths. With the titles sounding generic for the most part, and most of them coming in at over four to six and a half minutes, I am leaning more toward prog or jam band, or some sort of cringe-worthy combination.

Album Review: So lead singer dude is married to Rachel Ray (2 yrs after this came out). Should I consider that or ignore that while listening to the album. It will be hard to not think about.

“Another Day” begins full of liquid echo guitar and a warbley beat like a lot of grimy alternative rock. But then the song blasts off with power and energy, and the song transitions to more traditional heavy rock. The melody of the chorus is not horrible, and very driving. It just feels like this ground has been tread on, and this is nothing new
“Burn” starts off with quick guitar playing which reminds me of Blink 182’s song “M+M’s.” Then the verse slows it down, but retains power, confidence and energy. The end result is like something Collective Soul or Sponge would play. It is not totally void of catchiness, there are some minor hooks imbedded in the vocals that are indeed catchy, but the presentation and clutter of grunge noise taint the product.
“Too Many Problems” follows suit in the grungy alternative band field, this one is slower, and tells a bit of a story, revolving around the title. The song feels like it is going to break into “Cumbersome” by Seven Mary Three at any second. The ending of the song is a long dramatic instrumental section where electric guitars croon and wail. But the instrumentation is rooted in the basic song melody.
“Kiss Me When You're Dead” enters as a slow brooding alternative rock ballad. The aggression materializes in the chorus, but it slinks back into brooding for the verse. Around the three minute there is an interesting-in-a-good-way math rock guitar instrumental that seems to come out of nowhere.
“I Don't Know” is a fast pace punk-rock number that feels like we’ve picked up in the middle of the song at its outset. It is a little like Social Distortion without both the cool swagger & outstanding vocals.
“Grave” enters dark and brooding again. The grief in the vocals gives it a similarity to Eddie Vedder. There is a definite monster ballad metal guitar that accents the bridge between chorus and verse. The music creates a stirring and visual landscape of dust, passing, and reflection. Around the 3:45 mark the music picks up the pace and the song thrusts itself through grief to controlled anger. The monster ballad guitar transforms into a metal-rock guitar but transitions right back into ballad mode after a minute :30 to bring the song back to the grief stage for the conclusion of the song.

“Been Alone” makes me realize what Tool would have been if they were not as “industrial” and more metal/alternative. The vocals are similar in the verse, but definitely not as creative or emotional as Tool.
“Life That You Choose” has all the driving aspects of a power punk song. It grows increasingly urgent as the verse progresses into the chorus.
“Empty Table” brings the album back to the teetering side to side meandering alternative music. The chorus is loud, belting emo.
“Far Away” is a positive GBV inspired short rocker. It has a beginning middle and end, but each one is short, and it leaves out the repetition.
“Song 13” has an anthemic feel to it with the echoing arena guitars taking up the entire instrumental.
“On and On” powers on with no break after the instrumental preceding song. This is power rock, with quick chord changes. The melody is very familiar, it reminds me of a driving rock song I like, but I can’t place it. I like the chord shifts after the verse as it transitions into the chorus, which is only the verse slightly altered, driven up an octave.
“Blood” has an enlightened feel to it, but it does not seem like an album ender. It is middle ground alternative fodder. Not fast or slow or driving or anything remarkable.

Stand Out Track: On and On

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