The Said - Divisadero (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Said

Divisadero (2007)

Fathom One

About a year ago, this guy sent me a couple CDs he was promoting. I loved Mittens, a `60s-influenced guitar pop group, and I thought Anthems for Odyssey, a female-fronted emo/shoegaze act, was pretty decent. (You can check those groups out at As Built PR's MySpace.) He also sent this, the fourth album by a California act called the Said. I listened to it a couple times and attempted to start a review, then shelved it in frustration. The main reason was that I couldn't stand the vocals. The music seemed fine, but I couldn't stand David Brun's annoying mild sneer or that untrained vibrato he puts on everything longer than a quarter note. Why review it now? I can't even find these guys online much of anywhere and they may be broken up. Well, I'm down to the bottom of my pile, but new stuff is on the way! Yay!

With the Said, the backing music is nothing noteworthy, but not bad per se. "Sister of the Siskyous" is the topper with a light uptempo disco beat, clean guitar, an interesting bass line and some cool synth lines later in the song. "Jesus Statues" is a mid-tempo acoustic rock number with a slight twang, though they nearly ruin it with an unremarkable bari sax solo. I might even say "Vegas Suffers" rocks a little in a `90s Bush kinda way; it's not horrible. But no sooner do I start to enjoy the intro music than Brun's vocals come in to ruin everything. His pitch is not awful -- it's more of a tone or attitude issue. Trying too hard to be gritty perhaps? Sounds like he may be a Replacements fan, but I don't want to diss Paul Westerberg. And again -- that vibrato kills me. That's the biggie.

When it comes to lyrics I have a fairly high tolerance for crap, 'cuz if the melody is good and the music is tight I could usually care less (sure, good lyrics push stuff to the top of the heap). But when a cliché line like "Annie get your gun" -- from the Irving Berlin musical to a Squeeze song to start -- pops up several times in opener "Annie Leibowitz Negative (Reprise)," we're off to a bad start. And the melodies are never that good, which makes me notice the mediocre lyrics even more. The arrangement of syllables within lines are often clunky, which adds to the matter. Even the background vocals are weak, but I'm sure it's hard to harmonize with this dude, as is evident in the title track's chorus. There's a particularly annoying backup part (I believe sung by Brun, however) in the "Amtrak Starlight" chorus that sounds like some sort of old-timey circus ringleader voice with the effect that's on it. It's really too bad the vocals are so grating because each time a song starts, I think I could dig it in a different world where they had a different singer.

I think I've said enough and spent too much time on this already. You get the idea: not very good.