Stereotyperider - Songs in the Keys of F & U (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review


Songs in the Keys of F & U (2009)

Suburban Home

Before Suburban Home Records was the go-to label for alt-country awesomeness, they were a small operation with a roster largely comprised of either pop-punk or post-hardcore acts that very few people seemed to care about. One of those bands that fits the latter genre like a glove is Stereotyperider, and while many of their peers and labelmates gave up the ghost a long time ago, the Phoenix-area act has graced us with their new record and first in five years, Songs in the Keys of F & U. Silly title aside, it's a solid effort that shows this brand of rock, obsolete as it may seem, will never really go out of style.

More often than not, Stereotyperider derive their aggression from heavy, layered guitars that pummel the eardrums in a way few bands of this ilk are capable of doing. The absolutely huge "Did You Hear What I Meant?", the riff-happy "I'm Not Sayin'" and the slightly more melodic "Useless Point" are all prime examples of this. This record is no one-trick pony when it comes to guitar work, however; the riffing that anchors "We Are Dinosaurs" is positively discordant in nature, while the rapid soloing employed in "Twon Song" is nothing short of impressive. The guys even break out some dual soloing and utilize some incredibly high notes in "Annoy Me" with solid results.

Songs in the Keys of F & U ain't all hot lixxx and face-melting solos, though. Things get downright poppy on the aforementioned "Useless Point" as well as "Luck," the latter a song that sounds like a long lost alternative rock radio hit circa 1993. Same goes for the tight, driving "Don't Want to Know," a tune with impressive work from the rhythm section, especially those busy-without-being-distracting drum fills.

The most glaring issue that holds this record back from being great is the production. All of the instruments sound pretty clear, but the vocals are far too low in the mix. When the guitars are this big and loud, the vocals need to be higher in the mix to compensate for that; instead, they're relegated to the background and at times are near-impossible to decipher. Even layering the vocals, which the band does in tracks like "Dive In," "Luck" and "Useless Point" doesn't seem to help enough.

That's small potatoes, though. Songs in the Keys of F & U hits much more than it misses, and is worth a listen for anyone looking for a fresh twist on the old Quicksand/Samiam/Seaweed-centric sound.