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March 28, 2000

Down the Promo Pipeline

lint.jpg - 16907 BytesSOMETHING IS GONNA CHANGE,
Lint (Plumb Records), 2000

Sometimes everything just seems to come together and sometimes it doesn’t. SOMETHING IS GONNA CHANGE from the Boston band Lint is one of those things. Early in their career as a band it seemed that everything was going right. They had a revolving group of extremely talented up and comers (members of such bands as Milkmoney, Bloodletter, Stargirl and Spore), several much talked about CD’s and singles, some great gimmicks (a CD that you could play on a turntable), and a really promising new sound fronted by some really strong female vocalists. They were described in the press as being “a supergroup” and their members seemed to turn everything music into gold.

But unfortunately for them, too much did change. And when they made this CD, the band just couldn’t get anything to come together. First they weren’t willing to alter their sound the way the record company wanted. Then the record company picked ten songs by drummer Chris Cassel for the CD, not only snubbing but angering lead singer Meghan Mclaughlin enough to cause her to quit the band. The remaining members recorded the CD anyway with Chris on vocals and the record company chose to pass. This might have killed less motivated efforts, but the band regrouped and released the record themselves.

The CD that results is only a shadow of the band’s former self. Don’t get me wrong, the lyrics are compelling and the musicianship is excellent. But the weak vocals and poor production let the band down. And it’s too bad; this could have been a really great CD. But unfortunately the vocals can’t carry the strength of either the music or the lyrics. Luckily this band has reformed many times and hopefully they will be able to pull it all together again. This is a CD that will please only the most dedicated listener and the truly hardcore fan.

-- Thomi Sharpe

clearblue.jpg - 20554 BytesSILVER LINING,
Clear Blue (Tamer Records) 2000

Silver Lining is the first release from the band Clear Blue. Clear Blue is made up of Janine Stange, a Christian rock vocalist, and producer/musician Mike Tamer. Janine wrote nearly all the lyrics on the CD and Mike wrote all the music, played virtually all the instruments, produced, arranged, engineered, and mixed the CD. What results is a carefully crafted CD that showcases their individual talents. It’s a proven combination in the tradition of Sam Phillips/T-Bone Burnett and Shania Twain/Mutt Lange-female singer and rock musician/producer pair to make top forty heaven. Unfortunately, Clear Blue could have used a little impartial outside influence to help balance their efforts.

Silver Lining tries too hard to impress you with its slickness. Janine Stange is a gifted singer, but she should try less to wow you with her vocal abilities and trust her lyric to carry some of the emotion. Likewise, Mike Tamer overwhelms the otherwise excellent musicianship (Pete Lambiaso is a really great drummer) by trying to make the sound too clean. These are musical overachievers whose perfectionist control almost strangles the music. Almost. The CD really is good. “Un-chained” and “Surrender” are radio hits. But when Clear Blue is best is when it lets Janine break out of her Gwen Steffani-rock look-a-like vocals and stretch her baby diva wings. Clear Blue should try less to sound like Garbage, and try harder to sound like Whitney. That’s their real strength, straight-ahead adult contemporary. Hey it works for Mariah and Michael Bolton, you guys could do worse. I think the true silver lining is the promise of what’s to come for Clear Blue and I hope this talented couple can keep that promise.

-- Thomi Sharpe

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