God, I knew I wasn’t going to like this, but I tried. On one hand, it’s extremely difficult to get terribly excited about a band that sounds so…generic. It’s also difficult to get excited about a band that seriously references Nick Drake and Black Flag in descriptions of their sound, especially when they really sound like neither. What can one say about a rock band that sounds exactly what one might think a ‘modern-rock’ band would sound like? You know the sort; they've got 'literate' lyrics and an 'indie' sound--which means they've more than likely spent a lot of money to make a record that sounds as if it was recorded in a garage. And what can one say about an ‘indie-rock’ band that’s appeared on TRL and opened for Maroon 5 months before anyone’s ever heard of them? (One can understand why, though; Simon Dawes is the sort of band booking agents hire as opening acts for their clients, simply because agents want an inferior opening band to make the headliners look better.) It is easy to play the elitist snob card on Simon Dawes, as they are quite an easy target, and it’s really hard not to instantly be cynical about a band like this.
But here’s the problem with quick classifications and the dismissals that follow: one misses an artist’s potential. That’s certainly true with What No One Hears, because surely, there must be some point to this record, right? Right? The band’s music is moody, mellow, and though it aspires to be something big, it never really reaches its aspirations. Yeah, at times, they have a ‘mellow’ sensibility, and at times they have tough “rock” guitars on “The Awful Things,” but when lead singer Taylor Goldsmith starts singing, the band’s sensitivity and toughness goes out the window. Maybe it’s a sign of the deep rot that's a result dumbed-down fandom and pandering to zero expectations, but I’m sorry, I just don’t equate “rock and roll badass” with “stone-cold tone deaf,” and you shouldn’t, either. Just one listen to “Cheap Rip-Off” will turn off even the most tolerant of musical weirdness. Everything-and I mean everything--is off, from the singing, to the drumming, to the keyboard, to the guitars. This song is totally, utterly horrid. On more lackadaisical numbers like “Got A Light” and “Stay Seventeen,” and the band sounds positively uninspired. “I feel stupid and contagious” was meant to reflect teen boredom, not a new standard for rock music, guys. It’s hard to stay interested in a band when they don’t seem interested in being a band.
Yeah, on certain levels I think it’s kind of cool that a band seemingly being spoon-fed all of the breaks can produce music that reflects middle-class boredom with success and wealth, but at the same time, give me a break. I’m trying to find something, anything, that makes Simon Dawes worthwhile of your time. So far, I haven’t found it, and, after listening to this little record a few times, I’m not sure I will. I want more than just poor imitations of the poor imitations, and it doesn’t seem as if Simon Dawes wants to be anything but. So I guess their success is guaranteed, then….
Artist Website: http://www.simondawes.com
Label Website: http://www.recordcollectionmusic.com