Listen Up: Wednesday, June 5, 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
South FM

Drama Kids (MCA Records)

By Ken Shimamoto

We’re up to about the fourth generation of musicians who are young enough to count Pearl Jam Lites like Stone Temple Pilots and Creed as primary influences. What these latter-day alt-rock kids are selling is nothing more than grunge with the rough edges sanded off. These boys tend to borrow the most obvious aspects of early ’90s Seattle style — the plodding tempos, the crushing ’70s heaviness, Eddie Vedder’s sonorous bleat — without any of the rawness and fire in the belly that made all those bands of stringy-haired, flannel-wearing guys sound interesting in the first place.

Why do the new kids on the block do it? Probably for the same reason cute little Asian kids wear t-shirts that say “I shoot myself in head like rock star”: Either to ameliorate the pain of living, or (more likely) because they don’t know any better.

The latest crew of Metroplex alt-rockers to garner a major label deal, Dallas band South FM has scored a bona fide radio hit with “Dear Claudia,” a catchy little tune about a gal who sleeps around. The track originally broke in Florida — same story as the Toadies, only they didn’t have to wait a year for it to happen. MCA picked up the rights to South FM’s debut disc, Drama Kids (originally out on local indie Brando Records last year), and have re-released it in a spiffy remixed/remastered version. Now, South FM appears to be poised for mega-success.

Best thing about ’em is singer Paco Estrada, whose pipes are strong and expressive enough to set him apart from the other 10,000 faceless, droning alt-rock angst-boys. He’s got a God-obsession that I’m told isn’t as rare among alternatypes as you might think, and he actually had the cojones to write a song called “Corporate White America.” Hope his check from MCA cleared.


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