Clowns For Progress
Progress (Last Beat Records)
By: Alex Steininger
Clowns For Progress are a New York based pop-punk/rock/power pop band. Full of hooks and catchy rhythms, these guys aren't just another pop-punk or power pop hybrid. They mix in a lot more musical variety than a plain old pop-punk band, and have a harder kick than your average power pop band. They even have Dicky Barrett, lead vocals for the Mighty Mighty Bosstones doing a duet with them on Neil Diamonds' "Cherry Cherry."
The CD starts out with "Sammy Says," a full on assault of pop and punk from the beginning. The guitar goes full blast through the music, while the drums pound away in the background, and the bass dives into the music with meaty lines and powerful kicks. The chorus always throws some hooks the listeners way, giving you a feeling like you're invited to sing along with them. The music is friendly and inviting, and you can't help but sing along (once you learn the lyrics.) And to help you in your goal to learn the lyrics, so you too can sing along with them, they're neatly printed on the inside booklet. Always a nice feature, which should be standard, even though a lot of bands don't seem to be doing it these days. "Inundated Man" isn't one of their better tracks. The vocals basically talk over the music, besides the chorus, which is very unappealing and annoying. I lost interest within the first forty seconds of the song, and even the chorus didn't rebuild my trust in the song. A failed attempt at a song. It comes off very dull and boring. "3AM" is the best track on the CD. A very infectious blend of hooks, pop, a punk kick, and even more pop. The bass hammers through the song, while the drummer kicks the crap out of his kit. And the guitarist, well he jumps from heavy guitar riffs to crazy hooks that will find you and make you pay attention. The vocals aren't the greatest, but the melody creates a nice back for the vocals, taking a lot of the pressure from them and letting them off the hooks. "Goin' Home" lacks the energy the song needs during the versus, but the chorus rebuilds all your trust and keeps you listening with its infectious punch. "Cherry Cherry," a Neil Diamond cover, brings us Dicky Barrett from the Bosstones. The song is actually very well build, and very catchy, but inviting Dicky was a mistake. The song was my favorite track, until Dicky's rough vocals came in and ruined everything. I just can't get into his vocals, and found them quite annoying. "Saturn Rain" closes out the CD in a weird way. A freaked out mix of slight industrial, dance beats, distorted vocals, and toned down rock. I couldn't get into it, and thought it was a terrible way to end this disc.
Clowns For Progress create good power pop/rock/pop-punk melodies. They blend a punk kick in with catchy pop hooks, and a fierce kick that drives their energetic blend. It's when they start to experiment, or deviate from their initial plans, that things start to go crazy. The CD had a lot of high moments, but also fluctuated with some low moments. I'll give this CD a B-. They need to stay more focused, and concentrate on what they do good.
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