Gram Rabbit

RadioAngel and the RobotBeat

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Gram Rabbit -- a duo, not a single soul -- is slightly out to confuse. If the cover of their third album was anything to go by, some sort of cabaret/retro-circus music might be in the cards, a cleaned up Tom Waits or Marianne Faithful perhaps. Instead, the album starts with the song "American Hookers," where the kind of clunky industrial arrangements lots of bands borrowed from early Nine Inch Nails as glam metal was dying out in L.A. rub up against keyboards that sometimes sound a bit on the cheap and cheery side (though the piano break halfway through is nice enough). It's a not-entirely-promising start to things, frankly, though Jesika Von Rabbit's singing is fair, sounding a bit like Toni Halliday of Curve but without that band's stellar presence ("Shiny Monster" later gets close with the feedback, but only just). From there RadioAngel and the RobotBeat, a title apparently meant to represent Von Rabbit and bandmate Todd Rutherford, respectively, makes its fairly unremarkable way -- it's not a failure per se, but it seems strangely out of time, as if it was beamed in from early-'90s L.A. directly rather than trying to revive a sound per se. The band's rhythms are just too stiff and unremarkable to stand out, even amid a host of bands that have cleverly hijacked that style to create something more fluid in recent years. "In My Book" almost takes off a bit, with Rutherford's own OK-enough singing suiting the pulse of the song, but the synth horns sound horrible, while the attempt at rapping is clunkier than even most of nu-metal was able to manage. If this group had appeared on a bill with Concrete Blonde and Liquid Jesus twenty years back, nobody would have batted an eye, and if they ended up opening for the Lovemakers, it would be about what could be expected. But that's about all to say.

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