March 03, 2003

Heth "Clean"

I've never been one to hold a grudge against an artist or a band who explore musical styles that have, over time, worn out their welcome. Just because a sound is played out doesn't mean that the music is going to be bad; after all, isn't the whole point of being "innovative" one that is based on taking the trite or mundane and improving it? Of course it is! You should also realize that when an artist makes a record whose style is terribly trite it must also mean that the artist really, really LOVES said style. When the love is there, that's all that matters. (Of course, it could also be argued that the artist doesn't get it, but that's not the point here).

Alternative Rock is a style that's most stigmatized, and rightly so. The house that Nirvana built begat a lot of crap, and then it all came tumbling down when crap-metal, airhead pop, and "sensitive" folk musicians sucked out the feeling.
Heth Weinstein is a young man who looks like he's too young to remember "the good old days," but he has that alt-rock star look DOWN. Slightly aloof, he looks like a younger David Bowie, and the music he makes? Well, it shouldn't be a surprise that it's going to be "hip" sounding.

From the first chord of "Falling Together," you're instantly struck with how apt the title Clean is. That clean sound is due to having REM/Courtney Love producer Jamie Candiloro behind the mixing board. I'm instantly shocked by how AWESOME it sounds. It's one of the most commerical indepedent releases I've ever heard...period. I mean, didn't bands in 1997 and 1998 spend millions sounding like this? Anyway, Heth's an alt-rocker. On first listen, "Falling Together" sounds like a lost INXS demo; at times, Heth sounds like a dead-ringer for Michael Hutchence.

Aside from the sterile-clean production, Heth's got a great sound in him. He never really changes up his alternative-rock formula--if you think Third Eye Blind, you'd be forgiven--and while most bands would falter when making this kind of record, Heth amazingly pulls it off. In fact, one of my main complaints is that Clean sounds TOO perfect, and the music seems to be lacking a bit of passion. I think that has more to do with the production than the music, and I'll admit right now that I'd rather have a too-clean production than very little production any day.

While I'm not particularly fond of Heth's style, I'm not going to dismiss it, either. Why should I? He's made a great record. Clean is never unpleasant; if it's radio play that he wants, then songs such as "Life's A Photograph" or "Homegrown" wouldn't be unwelcome; hell, I'd turn them up if I heard 'em! These six songs are a nice little tease of what could be a great career for this up-and-comer. Glad to know that someone out there's willing to pay their way and make it themselves, rather than wanting to American Idol themselves. Probably a good thing, because Heth's too talented to be whored out.

(If you want to check out his stuff, visit for more info.)

--Joseph Kyle

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