Year Of The Rabbit

Year of the Rabbit

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Year of the Rabbit is the new project from Ken Andrews, the perennial Los Angeles hangabout who in the past was responsible for a host of knob-twiddling jobs (A Perfect Circle, Jimmy Eat World, etc.), as well as Failure, On, and the cheeky 1996 cover band experiment Replicants. YOTR's eponymous debut finds Andrews revisiting the post-grunge lurch of his Failure material, albeit with a newly honed pop twinge that masks the fact that he still sounds a whole lot like Kurt Cobain. "Rabbit Hole" opens the festivities, re-introducing the dully processed guitar sound that permeated Failure's 1994 effort, Magnified. But where that album played up jagged histrionics, Year of the Rabbit lets its hooks unfold more slowly, as on the spidery chug of "Lie Down" or "Vaporize," which sounds like something Johnny Rzeznik might write if he were angrier and had a fetish for Garbage-style alt.rock. Elsewhere, the formulaic lyrics and pacing of "Strange Eyes" are saved by some cool drum programming and an insistently twisting lead guitar line, while "Absent Stars" is an amped-up run through vintage Alternative Nation riffing. But while these sounds offer a few enjoyable highs, the majority of Year of the Rabbit just doesn't make much of a dent. Tracks like "Hunted" or "Last Defense" -- even the acoustic and strings departure of "Hold Me Up" -- are well-crafted nuggets of modern alternative pop. But there isn't enough of a real band inside these shells of songs, and you just get the impression that this sort of thing is pretty easy for these guys to crank out. Vaguely acerbic lyrics, obliquely fashionable references to drug use, articulated sweeps of anthemic guitar, and choruses you sing along with because you realize you've heard it all before -- this is what you'll find down YOTR's rabbit hole.

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