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July 15, 2024

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The All American Rejects
The All American Rejects (DreamWorks Records)

By: Vinnie Apicella

Funny but as I listen through the first track, "My Paper Heart," twice over now, I'm reminded of how much heat Cheap Trick took during their less than '80s hey days. AAR's described as "edgy Pop-Rock sung with unfettered emotion--" and please don't assume we're naïve enough to buy into this idea of a "new sound" please, please don't do that-- again! That stone's been turned twelve hundred times over and it's time we made the best of what we got and live by the results. And for a self-titled debut record that's considered edgy, crunchy, even aggressive in its melancholy, it's not half bad; and neither are the dozens of other Indie-imprint H/C types that followed a heart and play with a hook. By now their "Swing Swing" will be heating up the hotlines and Hot Lists at college stations and newsstand rags nationwide and at the least, they'll probably be honored with their own float at the next Oklahoma State homecoming-- Yes, in fact they hail from Stillwater, a sunny out of the way spot in a storybook suburb of choice and they're more about Sly and the Family Stone than they are about slit wrists and shaken faith. Never been one to follow the lead single brigade -- gets old way, way too quickly -- problem is there's a few too many sound-alikes here that I'd go out on my own limb and praise these guys as the next big wonderful bowl of pitless cherries that's going to dazzle the Rock and Roll lunatics waiting for the next big cavalcade of anti-heroes not named Jimmy or Weezer. That said, I was one of the few who could still stand Cheap Trick in 1986 when they had their bout with Pop hit illness and let the fashion front the band instead of the way it was and would be again -- so yes, I can see potential for this band, though I'd like to see a few more crashed cars, or broken guitar parts, or hell, even a school house burning-- maybe a confrontational lyric, for god's sake! Damn, but what's in a name anyway? The tunes ride the middle of the road and rarely stray far from their allotted shelter before dark character, propped up by late teen swing, spring blossoms, and she done me wrong, the sun sets on another sad day-- I just recently caught up with a new band called Useless ID that's not far from here -- a little quicker, maybe sharper, sillier -- 'cept here on "One More Sad Song," "Don't Look Back" and "Drive Away." The All American Rejects are young so they've got plenty o' time to be stupid, but for now, they're more serious than your average barely legal wannabe after school star types that put to rest the perceived repulse of men and the mid-afternoon soaps. Best tunes are "My Paper Heart," because I liked CT's "One On One" record, so sue me, but oldsters aside, "Drive Away's" like The Cure meets Blink, and "Happy Endings" features quirky effects over a driving guitar riff and beefy mix that's like a Dashboard Confessional collision that alone ups the edge factor of the whole. As a whole, AAR's debut will be praised far more than the sum of its parts, which such as they are, are decent, but nothing to raise a brow over.
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