Review Round Up #74

PlugInMusic.com's Review Round Up feature provides five quick-fire music reviews. This edition includes Various Artists' "Rockin' Romance," Ketch Harbour Wolves' "Dead Calm Horizon," Various Artists' "Up End Atom: A Tribute to Atom and His Package," Castevet's "Summer Fences" and Data's "Data."

Rockin' Romance

Various Artists
“Rockin' Romance”
(Destiny Worldwide 2009)

Aside from a Valentine's Day cash grab, I'm not entirely certain what the point of this is. Nearly to a song, the originals (including hits by Seal, Leona Lewis, and Taylor Swift) are far better than these interpretations, as these versions only bring whiny vocals and pop-punk sensibilities to the table. A few of the song choices are puzzling, too; LFO's "Summer Girls" was terrible the first time around, and it doesn't get any better here. Some of these are fairly passable, and if you're into guys wearing eyeliner mangling Bonnie Tyler ("Total Eclipse of the Heart") or the Beach Boys ("Don't Worry Baby"), you'll probably find something on "Rockin' Romance" to your liking.

Sounds Like: Emo-drenched covers of popular love songs

Key Tracks: Daphne Loves Derby - Etta James' "At Last," Moneta - Vanessa Carlton's "1000 Miles"

C+
buy it!
Dead Calm Horizon

Ketch Harbour Wolves
“Dead Calm Horizon”
(Self-Released 2009)

Ketch Harbour Wolves pull off a tough balancing act, delivering honest sentiment without falling into mawkishness or turning to total mush. Living in the icy expanses of Canada must have seeped into the band's music, as their basic tools are sparse guitar passages and low-key vocal melodies. That's not to say "Dead Calm Horizon" is depressing; there's always a twinkle of hope peeking through Ketch Harbour Wolves' sound.

Sounds Like: Mellow, soulful dreampop

Key Tracks: "Animals"

B+
buy it!
Up End Atom: A Tribute to Atom and His Package

Various Artists
“Up End Atom: A Tribute to Atom and His Package”
(Hartless Hind Records 2009)

Perhaps the coolest aspect of this tribute album is that it displays the huge and varied pile of devotees Atom and His Package built up before the geekster had to call it a day due to his struggles with diabetes (a portion of the proceeds from the album will go to the American Diabetes Association). Hockey-loving rockers the Zambonis, nerd-rap OG MC Lars, synth-punkers Worm Quartet, and more: they all turn in great
interpretations that showcase their appreciation for Atom's work. This is a well put together comp that both Atom fans and those just looking for a fun listen can enjoy.

Sounds Like: A diverse group of artists covering the Philly nerd rocker

Key Tracks: The Zambonis and Atom - "Goalie," MC Lars feat. Worm Quartet - "The Metric System"

B+
buy it!
Summer Fences

Castevet
“Summer Fences”
(Count Your Lucky Stars Records 2009)

"Summer Fences" contains an interesting contradiction of sounds. While twinkly guitars spin out a shimmering tapestry of sound, harsh vocals break up the almost dreamy nature of the album. Logic dictates that the mixture of such bright melodies and hardcore-inspired barks might be jarring, but it turns out to be a nearly seamless integration of the two styles. The interplay between guitarists Will McEvilly and Nick Wakim is engaging, if a bit noodly, and carries the songs forward in such a pleasant way that the vocals never come close to being a distraction.

Sounds Like: A mish-mash of punk, shoegaze, and post-hardcore sensibilities

Key Tracks: "Between Berwyn and Bryn Mawr"

B
buy it!
Data

Data
“Data”
(Self-Released 2009)

Data infuse hard-charging guitars with synthetic noise, and the result is an exiting sort of rock that you really don't hear that often. The band use their electronics particularly well, adding to the wall of sound with whooshing background noise, sprightly lead work, and other assorted bleeps, sweeps and creeps. Add to that an extra layer consisting of scratchy vocals, and this self-released effort turns into a trippy, invigorating experience.

Sounds Like: Upbeat electro-rock

Key Tracks: "Think More Dummer" "A Night Walking with B"

A-
buy it!