Bil Ringgenberg and Andrew Frank have spent a lot of time listening to contemporary pop and rock, and you hear it on their debut album under the name Driving Blind -- the distorted guitar sound of alternative rock, the dry, stuttered percussion (sorry, "rhythm programming") of hip-hop, the throaty earnestness typical of John Hiatt in Ringgenberg's vocals. Such trendy musical elements are all the more apparent in the duo's spare arrangements, in which each instrument can be heard clearly, but they don't overwhelm the songs. What's curious in these underproduced tracks is that, while they are so much more about feel and groove than they are about meaning, the presentation tends to focus the attention as much on what Ringgenberg is singing about as the soulful way he's singing it. Trouble is, with their sketchy lyrics and rifts in search of melodies, the actual songs are slight. "I'd rather be your favorite song than just a b-side you'd never play," Ringgenberg sings in "It Matters," and the image is telling: This is music made by people steeped in music rather than life. Montreal may be a cold place to live, but these boys should get out more.
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AllMusic Review by William Ruhlmann