January 28, 2009

Ladyfinger (ne) – Dusk

Ladyfinger (ne)
Saddle Creek; 2009


Rock music leads a troubled life these days, and has been for the past decade or more. The entire scene seems unsure of whether to continue with its traditional raucous, devil-may-care persona or find a way to develop some sense of maturity without sounding like a tired shell of its former self. On one hand, an established band might have concerns with pushing the edges of its sound to attract new fans while not alienating the old one, but that problem is always present, regardless of genre. The real issue for rock is how an up-and-coming group can truly honor the example set by its musical forebears without merely standing on some shoulders to reach for a new ledge. How many different ways can a producer really tweak the traditional two guitars, bass, drums, and vocals set-up?

Ladyfinger (ne) seeks to combat the trending towards sound-alike lameness by combining three somewhat disparate rock influences into a hard-rocking whole. Dusk readily calls to mind the powerful vocal work of classic Stone Temple Pilots that made Scott Weiland a household name, the anthemic nature of early Foo Fighters that everyone enjoys, and the strutting, swaggering tones of ‘70s British blues rock. These are extremely familiar elements of rock music, the fist-pumping, testosterone-laden tunes powered by a big voice and repetitive chord patterns that the masses can easily latch onto and love.

But that might be what ultimately works against Ladyfinger (ne) in that, while the band’s lack of pretense and gobs of attitude are extremely attractive, rock music has already trod upon this ground. Dusk starts off strong and pulsing with promise, but the sheen wears off halfway through, leaving behind a worn surface that’s rather flat and dull. Songs like “Over And Over,” “Two Years,” and “Plans” should get crowds on their feet when performed live (much less individual listeners playing an excited air guitar), but then tracks like “Read The Will,” “Get Married,” and “Born In The ‘80s” enter the picture and the once-boiling water goes tepid.

I don’t want to come off as some obnoxious music writer who only enjoys discovering the music of the newest, trendiest, flash-in-the-pan act. Ladyfinger (ne) makes fairly decent, driving rock music that many people will most assuredly enjoy, but there just isn’t enough sonic variance for my personal proclivities. My primary problem with Dusk is that it dips too frequently into the same formulaic well, inevitably serving as another example of how rock music desires to move forward into the future, but has yet to discern the necessary path.

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