Collin Herring

The Other Side of Kindness

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Instead of being a latecomer to the alt-country revolution, Collin Herring's The Other Side of Kindness, feels like a step back to the blander rootsy alt-rock of the mid-'90s. He picks and chooses his influences as if they were at an alternative salad bar, vocalizing like Brian Molko (strange choice on an album like this, but it works on a certain level) on some tracks, crooning like a higher register Richard Buckner on others. Unfortunately, this smattering and borrowing of styles -- he is pretty adept at walking that line between rock and country -- doesn't add up to anything really mind-blowing. His brand of country-fried alternative can at times feel spicy, but it really just moves in shades of bland. The saving graces come in moments like the sprawling, treated production of "Lazy Wind," which is majestic and visual, or in the opening track, "Back of Your Mind," which conjures up images of the road out West, with the top down, getting away from your past. It's not to say that Herring's country contributions are bad or are poorly done, it's just that they lack the fire and poignancy of alt-country artists like Jayhawks, Wilco, or Neko Case. Instead of aiming for the current trends that make this subgenre of Americana work so well, Herring aims ten years too long ago, specifically at the more white bread of that ilk, coming off like a more country version of the Gin Blossoms. Other Side of Kindness is a good album with both missteps and promise, and Herring's got plenty of promise, so it's not a totally lost cause.

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