Lifehouse is a MOR guitar-rock band featuring the luscious Jason Wade and some other guys.
lineup: Sergio Andrade (bass), Jason Wade (vocals, guitar), Rick Woolstenhulme (drums). geez, other guys, ever heard of "pseudonyms"?
review index: No Name Face / Stanley Climbfall
missing albums: none
Best songs: Sick Cycle Carousel, Simon, Unknown, Hanging By a Moment
Worst songs: um, they're kinda..uh..there's...
Postscript (1.02.03): here's my original pretentious appraisal of the first album, before they made the second one.
Why is it bands sound alike? I'm sure I'm not the only one, but I've noticed that the recently-successful groups Travis and Coldplay sound an awful lot alike. Originally I had them pegged as the inevitable Radiohead ripoff artists, but really, aside from the singers' enjoyment of singing in falsetto, they're really not that much like the big R. In actuality, they certainly seem similar to each other: both have a light, airy sound with a predilection for acoustic instruments. The only real difference, in fact, is that Travis annoys me and Coldplay does not. Figure that one out. [Actually, the other way around now, it would seem. Cole of the past, you were so naïve.]
This brings me to Lifehouse, a rather new group (this is their debut and, as of this review, only album). This group bears a passing similarity to popular rock band Creed. In fact, the first time I heard The Single, "Hanging By a Moment", I thought, hey, this sounds like Creed. Why, though? The heavy-handed Zeppelin-derived dynamics of "Hanging By a Moment" are certainly no stranger to Creed, but most mainstream rock groups in this post-Nirvana world tend towards this unsubtle use of soft/loud. Could it be, then, that Lifehouse singer/guitarist Jason Wade's singing is reminiscent of mush-mouthed Creed mouthpiece Scott Stapp? That's the most likely possibility, though Wade manages to use his rather limited vocal skills in a less pretentious and grandiose manner than Stapp.
"This is all well and good, Cole," you're probably thinking, "but what does this have to do with No Name Face?" There's an easy answer to that, dear reader: this ambiguous similarity to Creed, and the mushy power ballad that's been coating the airwaves over the past year, are really the only reasons Lifehouse ever managed to get out of the minor leagues and onto a big label (okay, okay, Dreamworks isn't big, but they are part of Seagram's Universal Music, truly the ConGlomCo of music labels). That Creed sold in excess of ten million copies of their Human Clay album is why this band got a chance. As I like to say: "why innovate when you can copy?" After all, the label doesn't have to take as big a chance, they end up making a couple million off No Name Face, and the band will either a. fade into obscurity, b. break up, or c. continue making albums to a diminished audience, which, incidentally, has already happened to the alt-rock bands of the early-to-mid-90's (did you know that Our Lady Peace, Bush, and Live have all released new albums this year?). Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. Wade, but your music isn't exactly pointed in the "longevity" direction.
If, as I say, this band reminds me of Creed (who I despise), why did I buy this album? I'm not entirely sure. Certainly there are many possible explanations: Maybe The Single seduced me. Maybe I thought these guys had promise. Maybe it was just because I think Jason Wade is cute. Maybe it's because alldirect.com had it for $8.67. Well, for whatever reason, it was a worthwhile buy. The album contains several enjoyable rock tunes, such as the followup to The Single ("Sick Cycle Carousel"), the attempt at some sort of spiritual soul-searching ("Unknown"), and the song that would've made a great ending, except that it's stuck in the middle of the album ("Simon"). Also, The Single is pretty good, too, and the album even ends with a re-write of it ("Everything"). The inherent limitations of the genre (my term: generic modern rock) is obvious by the time the album reaches 2/3 of the way there. "Breathing" and "Somebody Else's Song" manage some diversity in the arrangements, but overall, the album is very guitar-driven. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable listen, even if it's difficult to sit through the whole thing. Of course, you could just wait a year or two. You'll be able to find it in most any used CD store then.
Best songs: Spin
Worst songs: oh, where to start...
Eesh. I'm sorry? Where the hell did your songwriting talent go, Jason? It's telling when the best part of an album is the liner notes (in this case, they're assembled sort of like a scrapbook or something; it's rather neat), rather than, y'know, the quality of the material contained within! The first song is a nice slice of polite post-grunge rock, and incidentally shares a title with a popular magazine for popular assholes. Sorry, I didn't mean that last part. The rest is total and utter crap. The only melodies on here are clichéd and/or unmemorable, and the production is even less diverse than the last one. I will allow for one exception: "Take Me Away" is a decent mid-tempo pounder, though it's based on a brainless major-chord riff... and for some perverse reason I was expecting a cover of the Ween song. I'd be surprised if Jason Wade's ever even heard of Ween.
So, half a star each for the one good and one decent song on here. I'm tempted to just give it 1/2, but the point I must gratuitously hammer home is: I want to get into Jason Wade's trousers. Unfortunately he's straight. And married. And I will likely never meet him. And physical attraction is no basis for a relationship. But I digress. This album sucks, and my telling you that is all that's important, though I'm sure the loyal CR fanbase doesn't like Lifehouse anyway. After this tripe, I'd be inclined to agree with them.
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