July 24, 2008

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Thriving Ivory, Thriving Ivory
Wind-up Records, July 15

As it is in NASCAR, stickers on CD jewel cases are signs of legitimacy. When a CD shows up here with all sorts of colored stickers on its cover – this one’s got screaming-yellow and dog-doody-brown stickers from VH1 and Best Buy, the latter blocking my view of the cover chick’s hot feet – overeducated newbie CD reviewers must feel like weasels trapped in corners. “This isn’t something nobody’s going to buy, little CD reviewer,” the stickers say, “and all your base are belong to us. Surrender and maybe we won’t geld you.”

Luckily for your wallet I detest kids, so to the wind with all caution. Singer Clayton Stroope sounds like Axl Rose, which goes to show that some vocal coach someplace still knows how to teach the long-lost falsetto swindle, which may eventually lead to no more Scott Stapps, the thought of which couldn’t be more rapturous. No “Welcome to the Jungle” or anything like that here, though; the songs are all – every single one – flighty, blustering adult-emo power ballads that force Stroppe to make like a male Bonnie Tyler with nothing for grub but Total Eclipses of the Heart, albeit with a good-enough amount of polite power-chording around to keep him from belly-flopping off a skyscraper. Like most nu-AOR albums, the experience to which it’s most similar is one of those bad first dates where you end up sleeping together out of self-hatred while wishing you were playing Nintendo. I never thought I’d say this in seriousness, but: Come on guys! Rock out! C+Eric W. Saeger