In 1998, I attended a show at a local record store. I had no idea who was playing or anything. I just knew that there was a show, so being my scene-supporting self, I went. I was one of about a dozen people there. It was my first real experience of going to a show and not seeing anyone there. I felt extremely bad for the bands that played that night, even though I hadn't even heard them yet, simply because how could a band feed off 7 people clapping for them? Poor, young, foolish me. A band called Flu Thirteen came on, and rocked me about as hard as I had ever been rocked before. They were able to deliver the rock this well to only a handful of people? Amazing. I immediately bought their CD, "In The Foul Key Of V," and lived off of it for about the next year. This CD *was* my teenage angst rolled into less than 50 minutes. I got the majority of my drumming chops from playing along with this CD. My anger, my fear, my being, all seemed to be possessed in this CD. I started to move on musically, buying plenty more music to listen to and attend plenty more well [and not so well] attended shows. Flu Thirteen slowly slid into the back of my mind. The CD occasionally took a spin on my CD player, but it was no longer as important as I had once deemed it. All that changed during the summer of 2000.
On the way back from seeing Engine Down back in May, my friend Liz was browsing through one of my CD booklets and asked "what is this CD?" It was Flu Thirteen. I put it on, and told her all about my experience with the band. As I told my story, the band jumped back into my everyday consciousness. Flu Thirteen was back, and rocking me harder than ever. I started to inquire around about what had happened to these lovely boys from New York; no one seemed to know. Then one day I finally got an email from the Medicine Label, the people responsible for releasing "In The Foul Key of V." It said that the band had changed their name to Diffuser and had signed to Hollywood Records! He also said that they would be on the Mission Impossible: 2 soundtrack. This news floored me. On one hand, I was thrilled to find out one of my favorite bands was still together. On the other hand, they were on Hollywood Records? This sounded like trouble. Only time would tell if something happened.
Fast forward to August, 2000. I am in Wyoming and happen to find a record store. As I'm browsing, I notice that the Mission Impossible: 2 soundtrack was at a listening station. I immediately remembered that Diffuser had a song on it. I threw the headphones on and quickly turned the CD case over to find the song. As my fingers pressed the skip button, anticipation mounted within me. What would it sound like? Would they still be like Flu Thirteen? Had the "evil major label" changed them? And then the drums kicked in, signalling the start of the first Diffuser song I would ever hear, "Karma." For 3 and a half minutes, I stood riveted to every single note coming from these flimsy headphones. Flu Thirteen was dead; long live Diffuser.
The wait was the worst. Word had it that the album wouldn't even drop until January of 2001. Talk about torment. I get one Diffuser song to last me over 6 months? It was agony for me. In the mean time, their webpage was updated and looked damn good. Amazingly, Hollywood Records didn't try to hide the band's past, they ferociously promoted it. Their history and discography was all available to the public, as well as sound samples from the album. I was more than thrilled. I then counted the days until the release date. And then I, being the broke college kid that I am, spent the next month on eBay trying to win the damn thing for 5 dollars or less. Kind of anticlimactic. But anyways, moving on to the music: it rocks.
The album's opener, "I Am," knocks you over like a tidal wave, and is a definite standout track. If you can't pull out air guitar for this song, you must be deaf. Ironically, the second song on the album is called "Tidal," and is a solid 4 minute standard rocker. "Karma" is next, and even without the MI:2 promotion is the obvious first single. It's got that damn catchy "You're always gonna get what you deserve" hook, and pounding drums and guitars make it heavy enough for rock radio. "Tell Her This" is the only song on the album I really don't care for, as it seems just too weak to be coming from this band. Tomas, the singer, also says the word "underwear" in the song, which makes me loathe it even more. This seems to be the only pockmark on an otherwise wonderful record. "Wide Eyes [Photograph So Well]" tells the story of a high school reunion through the eyes of the jaded indie rocker. Good stuff. To me, the album culminates with the next song, "Losers of the Year." This is vintage Flu Thirteen-type angst rock, crammed into only 3 minutes. I would love this track to be at least 5 minutes long; maybe they jam it out live. The simple, screamed chorus, "we all want out," will come to mind whenever you're having a shitty day. This is my favorite song on the album, by a landslide. "Leaving with a California Tilt" incorporates great guitar and bass part with the tale of a lost love who, well, left with a California tilt. "The Way That I Feel" is a bit of a sappier number. This doesn't mean that Diffuser lets up with the ampage at all. These boys are not afraid to rock out with their hearts on their sleeves. "Last Time I saw Memphis" slows the album down a bit, with Tomas stiving to find himself among the "Jesus Freaks and velvet geeks". "35" has a melody hidden underneath all the distortion and the slicing guitars. The chorus lets you find it, and once you do, you won't forget it. As the album ender, "I Don't Have The Nerve" goes out with its middle finger directly in the air. The last lines of the song, "It's alright to know that television owns you / Clone yourself and fuck yourself," seems directed to the millions of fans of the pop music shoved down our thoats every day by MTV and commercial radio. Diffuser doesn't care if they have a hit single; Diffuser doesn't care if they're on TRL; Diffuser doesn't care if they tour with Blink 182. All Diffuser cares about is rocking you, and they'll do it through any means possible.
[taken from a different kind of greatness webzine]