CD review of All That Remains by Stereo Fuse

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All That Remains
half starno starno starno starno star Label: Toucan Cove
Released: 2006
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(Editor’s note: the part of Jason Thompson will be played by David Medsker)

We at Bullz-Eye are in the fortunate position where we frankly receive more music than we can cover. A nice problem to have, to be sure, but make no mistake: it is a problem. Several talented up-and-coming bands have surely been overlooked due to time constraints and the number of high-profile bands that must be covered. On the flip side, there are some bands we don’t cover simply out of courtesy; they’re not worth the effort to cover them, and besides, it just isn’t very nice to kick a band that’s at the bottom and trying to work its way to the top.

Unless they’re Stereo Fuse, that is. The Texas trio’s sophomore effort, All That Remains, is Rob Thomasism of the lowest order, generic guitar pop that pretends to be heartfelt and moving but is meaningless and hollow. If Bill Hicks were still alive to hear this album, he would surely say that Stereo Fuse were no less than demons set loose on the earth to lower the standards. He wouldn’t be wrong. For the good of music – nay, mankind – Stereo Fuse must be stopped.

From the spinning radio dial that opens the album, the following 42 minutes do not contain a single original thought, from the hair metal wannabe “Run and Hide” – most likely influenced by producer Mark Slaughter…yes, that Mark Slaughter – to the Matchbox Twenty ass-kiss “Beautiful.” I’d tell them that the riff in the chorus to “That’s Not Right” is straight outta Sniff ‘n the Tears’ “Driver’s Seat,” but that would likely be completely lost on them.

Perhaps the highlight/lowlight of the album is “The Best Ride,” which, no joke, has the following chorus, sung in Colin Hill’s whiny/growly tenor:

“This car is brand new and full of gas
No cops around, so let’s drive fast
The lights are green, no cars, no need for us to pass
The top is down, the engine’s strong
The radio is playing your favorite song
I think this might just be the best ride of our life.”

Are, you, kidding me. And here’s the kicker: those aren’t even the song’s worst lyrics. That distinction belongs to the opening couplet of, “Everything we’ve said and done / When times are tough, nowhere to run / I tried to play your ruthless game / It almost drove us both insane.” When your lyrics read like they were assembled by someone who wrote them while he was driving his car, talking on his cell phone, and fighting with his girlfriend in the passenger seat at the same time, pull the plug; you’re just taking up space. Fer crissakes, they even screwed up the decision to cover a Material Issue song. With all due respect to the occasionally brilliant Jim Ellison, the lyrics to “Everything” are just as bad as everything Stereo Fuse came up with on their own, which on second thought goes a long way towards explaining the band’s lyrical prowess.

The songs all possess structures that are a dead ringer for everything you’ve heard on Mix stations the last five years, which seems all well and good until it hits you: those songs on the radio weren’t any good, either. Again, demons, loose, lowering standards. This is music that was written for no other purpose than to be sold. It doesn’t mean anything, and it has no soul. It is product, nothing more.

Record labels will cite free downloads as the number one evil in the world today, and while that is surely preventing Master P from buying an island in the South Pacific for his son (“South Park: The Complete Seventh Season,” look into it), bands like Stereo Fuse are the real source of the problem. The reason? They make people stop caring about music. Look at those lyrics up there, for God’s sake. If they don’t care about the music they’re making, why should anyone else? Please, think of the children. Just say no to Stereo Fuse.

~David Medsker