The Escaped

* Rose City Hardcore

by Leah Sottile

Pop in the Portland-based Escaped's new record Rose City Hardcore and you'll get an earful of new-school kids rocking old-school punk standards. But just because it sounds old doesn't mean it sounds good. It's n & uuml;-punk and, like n & uuml;-metal, there's nothing really all that new about it - except for the umlaut, maybe.

The Escaped is trying way too hard to sound like their punk rock idols. Not only are they simply regurgitating things we've already heard, but they're also trying to be them. It goes a little something like this: Rose City Hardcore kicks off with a fast-driving punk sound with clear classic roots - plenty of toe-tapping, keeps you interested. Sounds too familiar, though. The final straw comes in the sad, tired "RCHC." What does that stand for? Singers Zac Fishnets and R.I.P. chant "Rose City Hard Core!" ad nauseam. Angst oozes from their vocals. The Escaped set out to break the stagnation of the punk rock pool, but with this album, they just froze the waters over.

And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead

*** Worlds Apart

by Mike Corrigan

While Austin, Texas, band Trail of Dead has trimmed back on its personnel a bit (from a quad to a trio), you'd never know it by listening to Worlds Apart (Interscope). In spite of its stupid title, the album more or less picks up where the highly praised Source Tags and Codes (2002) and The Secret of Elena's Tomb EP(2003) left off.

Dense with symphonic Anglo-rock ambitions -- I'm talking Pink Floyd and the Beatles here -- the compositions generously utilize strings, horns and sampled vox pops. Songs flow into one another, concept album-style. The band's aggressive attack is tempered by its literacy. It's like being hit with a velvet fist.

But is it overreaching? While these guys obviously aspire to create sophisticated, thoughtful hard rock, many of the songs here are nearly lost under the weight of their own grandiosity. And is it purposeful irony or an astounding lack of awareness that produced the title track, a sharp indictment of corporate rock that just happens to be the most radio-friendly cut on the album? It's all rather confounding. And messy. And maybe worth a listen.

Publication date: 2/24/05

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