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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Sitting in the veritable '60s opium den that is the Avenue office, we hazily looked around the room.

Among the piles of disheveled paper, crusty old Alligator newspapers and hideous wood paneling, we found ourselves poring over the shelves and shelves of CDs that are sent to us.

Let's get one thing straight: Most of these albums are terrible. Like, absolutely god-awful sonic foulness. Or that's what we assumed by looking at the dudes being douche bags on the covers. We really don't know how Victory Records found us or why they continue to bombard us with their product. Same goes for the people who promote bands like Disturbed, Sevendust and that guitarist from Korn.

Going against what was left of our better judgment, we decided to sit down and actually listen to some of these discs on a quality stereo system.

With the dusty office computer screen glowing before us from the whiteness of a blank Microsoft Word 95 document (only the latest technology here at the Alligator), we hoped with all our hearts to be surprised, to be put in our place, to be ashamed for letting images predetermine our opinions.

We loaded the CDs into the trays and pressed play.

Here are our findings:

Serj Tankian - "Elect the Dead"

Serj Tankian has been pumping out the jams with his terrorist-rock outfit System of a Down for some time now,

but last year he decided to go solo and recorded "Elect the Dead."

For Serj, this entails gathering seven people in a room and making songs that sound exactly like System of a Down.

The formula is simple: get loud and scream vaguely about big oppressive nouns - intoxication, hypocrisy, post-industrial society - and then mix things up with some Middle Eastern melodies that those guys in Mannheim Steam Roller would probably give their left nuts for.

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It's like world music for assholes, and we loved it.

Who else is singing about the "prophets destroying all the Tao?" No one, that's who.

And why not?

Times are hard. We all need a little easy dissent that we can buy at Wal-Mart in its edited version.

Sheryl Crow - "Detours"

We just listened to Sheryl Crow's latest album, "Detours," but can't remember at all what it sounded like.

She was there, we were there, the songs were playing, but all we got out of it is that her voice is a bit more gravelly now.

Not Lucinda-Williams-gravelly, more like recent-Rod-Stewart-gravelly - if Rod Stewart didn't have a penis for a brain and instead made music that our dads would probably like.

She's got a song about Sept. 11 too. Big ups.

Blaqk Audio - "Cex Cells"

We never listened to that band AFI, but they must have done pretty well for themselves.

They used to dress all grungy, but last time we saw one of their videos, they were wearing suits. Well, that androgynous-looking singer started an electronic side project with the other fey, very intense-looking dude in that band.

The result is house music for kids who never leave the house.

It sounds like a guy whining over keyboard presets, which also defines 95 percent of indie music these days. But this is not like that.

It is much worse.

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