Abandoned Pools

Armed to the Teeth

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Tommy Walter made one of the more overlooked alt-rock albums in recent memory with Humanistic, his 2001 debut as Abandoned Pools. Of course it was overlooked -- by the turn of the 21st century, "alternative" wasn't really anything anymore, having fragmented into post-grunge, rap-rock, safe-sounding AAA, and a host of other subgenres. But there are still common twinges to all those records released on labels like DGC and American in the mid-'90s wake of Nevermind and Pablo Honey, and that's the sound Abandoned Pools continues to mine with 2005's Armed to the Teeth. At first Walter's falsetto resembles the wail of an overstimulated emo kid. But he's much too talented a songwriter to fall into that trap, and the rich late-album ballad "Maybe Then Someday" even beats that whole scene at its own game. Most of the songs on Armed to the Teeth are guided by strong guitar melodies that pay off in big choruses, particularly on "Catalyst" and "Lethal Killers," and the layers of strings, brass, keyboards, and programming in tracks like "Tighter Noose" and "Renegade" add intriguing depth. Abandoned Pools often suggests a less baroque version of VAST (Visual Audio Sensory Theater), the ongoing one-man project of fellow '90s alt-rock devotee Jon Crosby.

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