39 Minutes of Bliss (In an Otherwise Meaningless World)

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The "rock" revival of the early 2000s sent record labels into a tizzy; everyone went looking for their own version of the Hives, the Vines, the Stripes, and so forth. It was a good time to be in a rock band and a good time to be a fan of rock music but, inevitably, as it has happened throughout the history of rock from rockabilly to grunge, the frenzied hunt for bands is bound to start to turn up some dross. Speaking of which, here you have electronica label Astralwerks' entry in the rock sweepstakes, with the Caesars. The group hails from rock hotbed Sweden and used to be called the Twelve Caesars. Just to add to the confusion that they are called Caesars Palace in Sweden. They released a record in 1998 for Minty Fresh that ended up in cutout bins. Seven of the 12 songs on 39 Minutes of Bliss (In an Otherwise Meaningless World) were also on that disc. They play semimelodic, garage rock-influenced rock that manages some decent hooks (the chorus of "Crackin' Up," the good cover of the Endd's "Out of My Hands," the blippy organ on the peppy "Jerk It Out") but remains bland and generic. The guitars are too processed sounding, the riffs they play are tired, the vocals are indistinctive, and the whole endeavor seems very secondhand, as every song sounds familiar in an unpleasant way. The lyrics are pretty clunky too. There is just nothing happening here that anyone needs to hear. The Caesars may get compared to the Hives or the White Stripes, but a more apt comparison would be to Smash Mouth or Third Eye Blind or some other band that has the sound but no soul. Why Astralwerks chose them is a mystery.

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