Daggermouth

Stallone

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Scanning the song titles on the debut album by Vancouver's Daggermouth creates a certain sinking feeling. Wordy Minus the Bear-style japes like "Wrestle Mania 5: Hulk Hogan vs. Macho Man, Winner Gets Miss Elizabeth's Love" and the Big Lebowski homage "The Dude Just Wants His Rug Back" suggests a bunch of smirking know-it-alls whose music is neither as clever nor as entertaining as they think. Indeed, this five-piece needs to find better song titles immediately, but surprisingly, the album itself isn't half bad. There's an unavoidable sense of déjà vu to Stallone, especially for anyone familiar with bands like Say Anything and Saves the Day: there's a little hint of emo whining in Nick Leaday's vocals, but the energetic, melodic pop-punk tunes tends to make up for it whenever he threatens to get over the top. Things do get a bit cutesy sometimes, like the pointless rap-rock opener "Steveston Mike Can Mosh to This Anyday!" -- yes, it's clearly meant ironically, but honestly, in 2006, making fun of the likes of Limp Bizkit is as pointless as making fun of Peter Frampton would have been in 1984. Whenever Daggermouth's youthful excesses are held in check by their knack for finding the precise midpoint between screamo and pop-punk without falling into either style's traps, Stallone is a promising debut. Luckily, that's most of the time.

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