Album name: Comes and Goes
Artist name: Default
Released: September 28 2009 (Canadian release only)
Label: EMI Canada
ZME Rating: 5/10
You probably didn’t know this, or perhaps you’ve simply blocked it out of your memory, but back in the earlier part of this decade, Chad Kroeger wasn’t just the annoying, frog-faced, inexplicably popular lead singer of turd-rock band Nickelback. No, in the dark days of Space Year 2002, Kroeger tried his hand at being something of a mogul, and with his attorney friend Jonathan Simpkin, founded a record label: 604 Records. To date, the only band I’ve heard of from this helpful Wikipedia list is Theory of a Deadman (a.k.a. Nickelback Jr), which suggests Kroeger’s talents as an A&R man are roughly equivalent to his talents as a rock singer. (Also, upon further investigation, all of the bands listed are uniformly awful, although The Organ are redeemed slightly by their hilariously lewd band name. Snigger.)
Admittedly, this isn’t strictly relevant to this review – I’m just a sucker for any opportunity to point out what a scum-sucking, vomit-spewing, painfully ugly, cancerous sore on the diseased, puckered, inflated lymph nodes of the music industry Chad Kroeger is, both as singer and as Record Label Fella #24. Which makes his relationship with Default all the more surprising.
You see, Default (who also presumably considered band names such as “Neglected”, “Abject Failure”, “Inadequate Band”, and “Out-of-the-box Video Game Settings”) somehow managed to rise about the deadly, vice-like Kroeger grip of assured awfulness, and stake their claim at inoffensive mediocrity fairly convincingly. Despite discovering the band, and having a hand in writing and producing their first two albums, Kroeger’s influence has all but faded by now, and the Canadian band have been mostly left to their own devices. In Default’s case, those devices are distortion pedals, rhyming dictionaries, and dreams of stadiums in which to play the resulting product.
Surprisingly enough, they make it sound entertaining at times – as radio-rock anthems go, “Turn It On” and “All Over Me” are boisterously competent, sounding more like a castrated, blunted Motley Crue effort than the work of their fellow Kroeger-protegés. It’s just about sexless and safe enough for mainstream radio play, but it at least sounds like they had fun recording it. Guitarist Jeremy Hora occasionally gets to flex his soloing muscles, and comes up with some moderately interesting instrumental hooks, and Dallas Smith (who has a name befitting a fictional jock from a bad high school movie) sings with conviction, even if the words are rarely more meaningful than a crude drawing on the back of a soaked beermat. Sample lyric: “All I want is you all over me.”
But, of course, being an “alternative/post-grunge” rock band, they’re legally obliged to include a number of utterly flaccid, torpid, by-the-numbers ballads, most of whom sound like a distant cousin to the Goo Goo Dolls’ ubiquitous “Iris”, not least “Show Me” which actually seems to steal the former’s string arrangement. And they run out of steam towards the end of the record – they never quite become objectionable, but certainly boring and samey, like a packet of Skittles containing only green sweets. It’s like, hey, I like green Skittles, and they’re definitely better than orange ones, but they’re not as good as red ones, and I definitely don’t want a whole bag of them. I want to be able to Taste The Rainbow, but Default cruelly leave me suckling a mere one-seventh of the whole spectrum.
But hey, better one seventh of a rainbow than a muddy puddle left over from yesterday’s rain, right? And that’s why Default are a lot harder to write off than Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman and their ilk. Unfortunately, they’re a hell of a lot easier to write off than plenty of other bands. They define middle-of-the-road rock: music that’s hard to dislike, but impossible to recommend.
- “Turn It On”
- “All Over Me”
- “Little Too Late”
- “Show Me”
- “Hold Onto You”
- “Comes and Goes”
- “Supposed To Be”
- “Caught in the Moment”
- “Yesterday’s Song”