January 27, 2002

Schatzi "Death of the Alphabet"

Power-pop punk. Never thought that combination of styles would ever be appealing, much less actually valid, but here's the proof. This little group from Austin, Texas, are making music for the soundtrack of someone's life, and though that person may or may not be you, you can't help but kick back, smile, and enjoy the ride.

What a lovely ride it is! This is a four-song "EP" that is really a sampler for the band's forthcoming album Fifty Reasons to Explode. The four songs are to be on the album, and I guess this is a way to raise interest in the album. They're doing the emo/pop punk with hints of power pop, not unlike the Get Up Kids, yet they don't strike you into boredom with the yawn-inducing Get Up Kids formula that only the Get Up Kids can get away with. "Death of the Alphabet" is a quaint little emo-rock song that reminds a little bit of recent Promise Ring, without the whiny singing. "Sucked Into Something" has this big-rock sound that sounds not unlike the great Superdrag, another band with a hit that had "Sucked" in the title. "Song For Stephanie" is a definite stumble from the other two songs, as its simply too by-the-book emo for my taste. "The Spider Smells Disaster" is a song that attempts to be symbolic, yet stumbles over the fine line between clever and stupid way more than I personally allow.

Death of The Alphabet also has four "bonus" tracks from the past few years. "Nadine" is the first, and it's a heaver, rockier affair, with some sweet melodies and a riff that's reminiscent to Jawbreaker's "Fireman." "By The Slivery Moon," from their previous album, the stupidly titled Joni loves Schatzi, is interesting, as it's not like the rest of the songs on here, being a more lo-fi affair, much more like GBV than JEW. I likey this one very much, thank you, though the next song, "The Fall of Canaryville," is much more JEW than GBV, and I no likey this one at all. The last song, "* * *," is a remix of the title track, with industrial-strength drum machine and live drums, and though the vocal line is the same as the original version, it's kinda fun in a "that was an intersting use of three minutes," yet this version doesn't do justice to the original song.

All in all, this is a very pleasant, if not slightly generic, record. Schatzi could really be onto something with their style, and if you like poppy rock with a touch of emo, then Death of The Alphabet EP would probably spend time on your radio. Now, Schatzi, I'd like to commend you on your talents, but would like to take you to task for something: why do you feel it necessary to laden your songs with so many emo-rock cliches? I hope it's not for wont of attention, is it? That Joni Loves Schatzi track was pretty good, yet you delve into blechy territories now and again. Don't think I don't like you; if I didn't like you, I wouldn't be giving you this little lecture, would I? You're better than that. Leave the crap to people like Jimmy Eat World and whoever this week's makeout club stars are. You're better than that. Really, you are. I swear it. I wouldn't lie to you.

--Joseph Kyle

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