Various Artists

A Tribute to Incubus [Big Eye]

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The importance of Brandon Boyd's role as the mouthpiece, frontman, and spiritual leader of Incubus becomes clear with just one listen of the Big Eye label's Tribute to Incubus. The studio musicians hired for the project play Incubus' music with aplomb, but the cake deflates every time their vocal stand-in opens his mouth. Despite his expressive voice, he isn't the sensual, suburban-charming, neo-hippie hybrid that is Boyd and, in turn, the rest of Incubus. Without Boyd's presence on the mike, "Wish You Were Here" and "Circles" are just high-school jam band anthems, and "Mexico"'s vocal workouts are a just embarrassing. "Drive" fares best, perhaps because it's not so Boyd-driven. Here, the studio guys in "California Dreaming" paint the song's funk-ish melody and DJ scratches with some real groove, proving what the rest of Incubus might not want to hear: They're expendable.

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