Friday, July 16, 2010

Review: American Hi-Fi "Fight The Frequency"

Taking a break from being the band behind Miley Cyrus, the members of American Hi-Fi have regrouped to release the long-awaited follow-up to their amazing 2005 record, "Hearts on Parade". Produced by Butch Walker, "Hearts on Parade" has become one of the favorite underground pop rock records of the last decade.

American Hi-Fi is: Stacy Jones on vocals/drums/guitar, Jamie Arentzen on guitar/vocals, Drew Parsons on bass/vocals, and Brian Nolan on drums. And, for the sake of accuracy, not all of them play for Miley Cyrus. American Hi-Fi got off to a wonderful start in 2001 with their self-titled debut album, which contained the hit single "Flavor of the Weak". Unfortunately, nothing else from this notable debut got any traction and their second record, "The Art of Losing", proved to be a sophomore jinx. "Hearts on Parade" had big comeback written all over it, but it surprisingly failed to give these guys the success they deserved. Which brings us to "Fight The Frequency", their fourth time at bat after a long sit on the bench.

Jones describes the new record as sounding "...a little like Elliott Smith partying with the Foo Fighters at a kegger with My Bloody Valentine and Superdrag". For those of you who lack the imagination to conjure up exactly how that would sound, let me try to break it down for you. The title track starts us off, an energetic and inspirational anthem that affirms that the band hasn't lost a step. "This Is A Low" is grittier and not as immediately memorable, but will appeal to those who like the darker side of American Hi-Fi. Three tracks in and we have the first ballad, "Where Love Is A Lie", which begins with a gentle acoustic verse that leads to an explosive chorus - fairly predictable, but enjoyable song nonetheless. "Acetate" is a crunchy radio-ready rocker that could have fit nicely on "Hearts On Parade" - it is one of my favorites on the CD. This brings us to the first single, "Lost". With its safe formula, combining a driving verse with power ballad chorus, it should do well and bring greater attention to this underrated band.

The latter half of the record is uneven, switching between less melodic, grungy songs and the bright, catchy pop rock. Despite second-half highlights like "Lookout For Hope" and "A Taste For Crime", I am likely to stop this CD halfway through.

"Fight The Frequency" comes out on August 17th.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9

American Hi-Fi on MySpace. Official site.

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