JEFF the Brotherhood

Wasted on the Dream

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Warner bankrolled Wasted on the Dream but dropped JEFF the Brotherhood just weeks prior to its March release, a situation that didn't exactly make the band distraught ("We, JEFF the Brotherhood, are SO F****** PLEASED to announce that we have been DROPPED from the clutches of the demented vulture that is Warner Bros.," they announced in a not entirely diplomatic press release). Such parting of the ways may suit both parties and it suggests what an odd little record Wasted on the Dream actually is. Boasting a bigger, beefier production than usual JEFF LPs -- a sign of the extra money at a major -- Wasted on the Dream is hardly a crossover record. Certainly, there's no disguising the Weezer remnants scattered throughout Wasted -- the kind of alt-pop smarts that could conceivably mark a commercial commodity; "Prairie Song" follows all the contours of Rivers Cuomo's songwriting book -- but they're often obscured by sheets of heavy, heavy churning guitars that push the duo toward stoner rock. JEFF remain slightly too clean and poppy to be full-blown freakazoids, but these thick sheets of guitar do provide a bit of a heady thrill. If that thrill quickly dissipates after an equally sudden escalation -- the pinnacle of weirdness is Ian Anderson coming in to trill some flute on "Black Cherry Pie" -- it's enough to dig JEFF the Brotherhood deeper in a cult ditch instead of getting them out of it. There's also no denying that this emphasis on fuzz may not sit well with fans who favor JEFF when they're all about the hooks, but those listeners should stick around until the end of the album, when the foggy hangover lifts and the duo gets back to basics. "Karaoke, TN" and "Coat Check Girl" are good neo-power pop, but what gives Wasted on the Dream its kick are those earlier moments, when the band wants to be a different band than it is.

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