June 07, 2003

Clown Down "Living Alone"

Emo had so much potential. What could have been a wonderful mixture of genres just turned out to be so crappy. Some emo bands recognized that a mixture of punk, indie-rock, and Britpop could create good, interesting music. Other bands substituted Britpop for power-pop with a little bit of new wave. Many bands try to make the combination work, but they get the formula wrong and make some pretty bland, by-the-books music. Clown Down aren't an emo band, or at least they aren't attempting to be one, but Living Alone skirts the borderline between emo and Britpop. I can tell that they're influenced by Radiohead, and that they've probably got a few records by Travis in their record collection, but something about Living Alone really screams makeout club, Dawson's Creek, and Sassy.

I wanted to suggest that Clown Down were the first band in the history of Rock And Roll to accidentally make an emo record, but after a few more listens, I can't say that. They have a sound that's very much an emo sound, and you can't accidentally do something eleven times over. Each song sounds like it could have a place on Deep Elm's classic Emo Diaries series--if they've not been on there already. It wouldn't be so bad for Clown Down if their music wasn't so been-there, done that; instead, they sound like they could be any band listed on some emo-loving 17-year old girl's LJ-interest list, which, by the way, isn't saying much.

Okay, okay, so the music's not that bad; at least they're trying to make a good record, even if it doesn't quite work for them. I'd like to think of them as a bit like Appleseed Cast (who they occasionally sound like); they put out a few records that weren't that good, and then they released the stunning Low Level Owl. Methinks that Clown Down are still looking for a groove they can call their own. About the only standout track on Living Alone is "Carpetbagging," with a kind of funky keyboard blip that, when placed over the aforementioned musical styles, can provide for a memorable song. Give them some time and maybe they'll produce a record that will be more memorable.

--Joseph Kyle

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