daughtry disk 88 298.
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The debut album of American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry has it all - heavyweight studio musicianship, smartly crafted, hook-filled songs and Daughtry's perfectly on-pitch, brooding rock baritone.
It's also got to be one of the most generic, cookie-cutter efforts I've ever heard, without a semblance of originality, personality or purpose. Naturally, it's shot directly to the top of the US charts, and is beginning to burn up the local airwaves, too.
It's hard to pin down what's so distasteful about the disc, considering it's so tasty. Daughtry possesses all the elements the American Idol world thinks a pop star needs - a band that makes crunching power chords sound as inoffensive as Bon Jovi, formulaic songs devoid of any real emotion and a powerful but bland voice.
Daughtry, fittingly, has absolutely nothing to say with that voice. Opening lines like "I'm staring out into the night, trying to hide the pain" or "Now that it's all said and done, I can't believe you were the one" give a clear indication that, with this album, you're entering serious soap opera cliche territory.
The songs all sound like hits, again very tastefully performed, but they all feel like they were put together by a marketing director, not a producer. Even Slash, who makes a guest contribution to "What I Want," can't seem to start a fire amid this lite metal dross, which often sounds like rehashed Nickelback (a band not exactly known as the epitome of originality).
Daughtry's debut is like eating at a fast food chain - it's immediately familiar and there are never any surprises, but it rarely leaves you satisfied. Of course, tens of millions of American Idol fans can't be wrong, so look for Daughtry to pick up his first Grammy next year.
Here & Now
It occasionally seems like each generation of rockers signals its own arrival by helping an older musical inspiration produce a comeback album. In the Eighties, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty did it behind early Sixties rockers Gary "US" Bonds and Del Shannon. In the Nineties, Bruce Hornsby did it with late Sixties hero Leon Russell. Now, a whole slew of indie popsters have mobilized themselves behind Sixties soft rockers America.
Aided and abetted by - hold your breath and repeat - Fountain of Wayne's Adam Schlesinger, former Smashing Pumpkins member James Iha, Ryan Adams, My Morning Jacket's Jim James and Ben Kweller, the original Americans, Gerry Buckley and Dewey Bunnell, return as if 25 years haven't passed by.
America never achieved the musical heights of contemporaries like Crosby, Stills and Nash, Poco or the Eagles, but the band could always be counted on for solid, if somewhat wimpy, harmony-filled acoustic rock. And nothing's changed on Here & Now. The youngsters seem to revel in creating a breezy Seventies sound for Buckley and Bunnell to float on, and tunes like "Chasing the Rainbow," "Ride On" and "All I Think About is You" can stand proudly next to the group's AM radio classics.
Speaking of which, a second, bonus disc features a live America performance from 2005, chock full of the group's oldies. And they sound just fine. I'm not ashamed to admit I was singing along to "Sister Golden Hair" and "A Horse With No Name." But guys, I would lose the version of "Muskrat Love" - the Captain might tell Tennille.
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