Music Reviews: Institute, HIM, Lovedrug

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat.


Distort Yourself

Music: Meet Gavin Rosedale’s post-Bush band, emphasis on the word band. Rosedale reportedly didn’t want to make a standard, celebrity-on-a-fling solo album, so he opted for a collaborative, communal vibe that for the most part has produced a good debut. Standout tracks—all bolstered by the Brit’s angst growl—include “Come On Over” and “Ambulances.” The guitars are crunchy, the attitude is Euro-cool, and the production is crystal. 

Drumming: Relative newcomer Charlie Walker will not win shredder awards, but he is exactly what Rosedale (umm, the band) needs him to be—solid and supportive. For most of the disc, he keeps a hefty 2 and 4 on the snare, throws down the occasional off-beat bass drum pattern, and rides his crash to cymbal oblivion. But check out the opening of “Boom Box” for an impressive groove that gets a little Gadd. 

Verdict: Though not exactly revolutionary, Rosedale’s new project reminds you why he’s much more than Mr. Stefani. 


Dark Light

Music: Europeans have understandably been fawning over this Finnish fivesome for about a decade. Vampirism, heartagrams, lanky boys in lipstick and mascara—what’s not to love? Gender-bending trappings aside, the band is a creative bunch who can incorporate a John Carpenter–esque Halloween theme into the toe-tapping “Vampire Heart” as well as come up with can’t-miss song titles like “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly.” Listener beware: At some point, you’ll catch yourself drumming along and wondering what you ever saw in AC/DC anyway. 

Drumming: HIM’s one-named drummer, Gas, graduated at the head of Backbeat 101 but never bothered to enroll in any another classes. Such lickless playing is like postmodern art or a foot fetish: You either get it…or you don’t.

Verdict: All the cute goth-gone-vampire girls are going to be humming HIM tunes this year. Join in for a measure or two, and maybe one of them will bite your neck. 


Pretend You’re Alive

Music: Hailing from Ohio (but don’t let that fool you), Lovedrug has all the indie sound and cred of those Gardenstate groups that dominated 2005 but with amps that go to 11 and tempos that every now and then make it past 60 bpms. Songs range from the right-out rocking “Rocknroll” to the lighter-waving sing-along “Paper Scars” to the introspective “Spiders.” The pleasantly high-pitched vocals of Michael Shepard will keep you coming back for more. 

Drumming: Matthew Putman’s drums are prominent in the disc’s mix, which makes us happy, because his playing is worth hearing. Primarily a pocket man, Putman creates nuanced, textured beats that perfectly support the band’s sound. Give a listen to his tasty hi-hat patterns on “In Red” and “Blackout.” And be sure to get your fix with the hammering, syncopated “Pandorama.” 

Verdict: Don’t just pretend. Inject a little Lovedrug, and feel that you really are alive. 

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