October 23, 2008

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The Muckrakers, The Concorde Fallacy
Toucan Cove/Universal Records, Oct. 14

Most likely you know the Muckrakers by way of “Through My Door,” the friendly Bodeans-like single from their 2006 album Front of the Parade. Their distinguishing characteristic is front-guy Rob Carpenter’s frequent lapsing into a dead-bang James Taylor sound-alikeness, and from track four onward of this one the band contents itself with acting like old dudes. Or maybe not all the way through to the last note; I really stopped paying attention after around five or so workaday Taylor-style pleasantries, leaving me asking the air “Now where did those nice cis-alt-rock surf tunes from the beginning of the album go,” for instance opening track “Antidote,” resplendent in a gorgeous swept-away guitar line that’s “dusk at the beach” personified, or even the humdrum, Beck-inspired not-really-rocker “Gravity” with its Goo Goo Dolls undertones. “Beautiful Goodbye” starts with a stutter-guitar line that makes one expect Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo to start bratting into the mike, but along comes the Taylor voice and with it bringdown. Bands like this, who can’t quite decide on an overall approach, cannot have their cake and eat it too — it’s radio success or blank looks from confused fans, now choose. B-EWS