Tuesday, May 23, 2006

wrecking reviews

The Wreckers
"Stand Still - Look Pretty"
(Maverick)

The short story of The Wreckers will no doubt be one that people will forget, but for pop culture geeks like yours truly, it will surely be the tale of strife that only a handful of people would care to hear. Former pop princess (Michelle Branch) ready to move on in her career, (thanks in part to a Carlos Santana-penned hit) hits a wall with her label (Maverick) when they refuse to release an acoustic folk album, even though the songs and the "new" band had floated to a primetime television show ("One Tree Hill") and a headlining mid-sized venue tour had gone underway (orignally billed as The Wreckers featuring Michelle Branch). Said label passed on the album and the pop princess unleashed a firestorm of insults on her myspace (which has since been deleted). Then the label's parent company, Warner, is able to generate moderate success with another pop-folk-country-girl group hybrid (Eisley) and all is set to go with The Wreckers.

Though it should be noted that The Wreckers don't really sound anything like Eisley. For one thing, it's not nearly as atmospheric or dense. It's pop-country, not unlike the Dixie Chicks. But it's not idiotic like, let's say, Toby Keith. It's straight forward CMT stuff. Really easy to listen to, with a couple of potential big singles to make your ears pop.

"Tennesse," for example, has all the elements of a solo Michelle Branch tune (catchy, good vocal range) but mixed with a slide guitar and some shakers. In fact, save a few sparse moments, Michelle Branch never gives up the mic to her fellow Wrecker, Jessica Harp (who got her big break as Branch's back-up singer/best friend).

The reality is that "Stand Still - Look Pretty" is a new Michelle Branch record, but due to the nature of country music and fickle pop fans, it couldn't be sold to Branch's fanbase. Instead what we have is a sexified, prepackaged duo ready to be marketed to a demographic who realizes that there are no supermodels in their genre. Putting aside the obvious selling points of The Wreckers, however, their debut isn't half bad. If anything, it mirrors the band's story -- mildly interesting with a few moments of excitement.

1 Comments:

At 5:43 PM , Blogger judou said...

You wrote: "Tennesse," for example, has all the elements of a solo Michelle Branch tune (catchy, good vocal range) but mixed with a slide guitar and some shakers. In fact, save a few sparse moments, Michelle Branch never gives up the mic to her fellow Wrecker, Jessica Harp (who got her big break as Branch's back-up singer/best friend).

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The problem there is that "Tennessee" was written by Jessica Harp alone. And she sings the entire song with Michelle merely singing harmonies.

The same is true with a track called "Cigarettes". She also sings all of the Patty Griffin cover "One More Girl" with Michelle singing harmonies.

You'd be better of arguing that Michelle was a little too generous with giving up the mike than anything else. But Jess's vocals are so solid that you can understand why she'd have no problem letting Jess shine. I'm sure you've heard the old saying that backup singers often have better voices than the ones they're backing right? I'll leave that as rhetorical.

And Michelle was not Jessica's big break. In fact, Jessica was on her way to sign her own solo record deal when Branch begged her to do the duo thing instead. They knew each other before either was signed. Actually, it kind of seems like Michelle didn't hire her as a backup singer as much as she wanted an excuse to have her good friend around on tour.

And as you mention in your review, their decision to do this was not without risk or battles for both. They fought tooth and nail to do this. Does that sound like a big break? Well, it looks like they've pulled it off.

 

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