Listen Up: Wednesday, September 17, 2003
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
A D V E R T I S E M E N T
Paloalto

Heroes and Villains (American Records)

By Brian Abrams

Coldplay. Radiohead. The Verve. The Wallflowers. Itís bands like these ó and the U.K.ís Paloalto ó that remind us just how many innocuous outfits there are out there. Producer Rick Rubin (Beastie Boys, Red Hot Chili Peppers) could be key to the bandís success, but his workís cut out for him. Thereís just not much PA can bring to the pop-rock table thatís not already there.

The soft jingling guitar, the plain-Jane drum patterns, and lead singer James Grundlerís whimpers are essentially all there is to PAís latest, Heroes and Villains. The aforementioned groups have all produced this sound at one time or another, but they all went on and tweaked it ó just enough ó to separate themselves from the noise. Beyond its resemblance to those bands, PA has no identity of its own. Heroes and Villains is so safe, so bland, that every track could have been slipped in as a B-side on one of the other groupsí discs. Thereís definitely talent in PA; itís just that itís not huge talent.

But maybe Rubin can give PA a shot in the arm. Tweak its sound ó just enough. Wind up Grundlerís cries, transform the bandís energy into more ponderous and head-trippy synthetics, add some wedding violin fluff, or just get in good with Bob Dylan. Those ingredients seem to work just fine for those other guys.


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