Review Summary: This is the most unremarkable music ever made.
In all of the music I’ve encountered, pop- or alt-country is one genre that I’ve yet to find anything enjoyable from. Hell, I’ve gone from being completely metal-phobic two years ago, to now enjoying a wide variety from the goofiest (Dragon Force) to the most brutal (Cryptopsy) to some of the most atmospheric and elaborately constructed (Neurosis). However, alt-country has really never done much for me. I’ve still yet to hear a band that injects some of the better elements of each genre to make for an enjoyable sound. Upon being assigned to listen to Kerosene Hat
, Cracker’s sophomore record, I am still waiting to find an enjoyable alt-country band that isn’t bogged down in predictable and uninteresting musicianship, and cheesy and banal songwriting.
Now, even as someone who generally detests the genre, Country and Americana can have somewhat enjoyable qualities. And by somewhat enjoyable, I mean that they don’t make me want to club myself over the head repeatedly while listening to them. I’ve encountered plenty of good country guitarists, and although I cannot name any prime examples right off the top of my head, I’ve heard plenty that at the very least have kept me moderately interested.
However, Kerosene Hat
is just brutally uninteresting in that aspect. The soloing is fairly minimal, which keeps my attention span constantly slipping away towards other things. Even then, none of the rhythms provided by the two guitarists are really interesting at all. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find many moments on the album that require two guitarists, where most could be more easily and probably better replicated with one guitarist and a looping effect. The rhythm section is also fairly commonplace, which is a bit surprising even for an alt-country band. The drumming could be just as easily replaced with a metronome and while the bass occasionally spices up certain songs with buoyant lines, it never gets interesting enough to really save a song from being moderately worthless.
But as a whole, Cracker just cranks out really mundane and unremarkable alt-country with vague hints of psychedelia and folk-rock. Nothing really differentiates them from other artists in the genre at all, except for the occasional trippy section like towards the end of “I Ride My Bike” which comes of like nothing more than lame Grateful Dead pandering. However, for as bad as I’ve made it out, there is one highlight in the opening track of “Low”, which is one of the more rocking and up-beat numbers on the album, and a good choice for an opening track.
Lyrically, the band is really just average as well. They have a few love songs (“I Want Everything”, “Sick of Goodbyes”), a vague sociopolitical commentary (“Movie Star”), and a couple of other cliché ballad-y songs (“Lonesome Johnny Blues”). The lyrics are coherent, and there are really no major cringe-worthy moments to be seen, but nothing also that even makes me appreciate them as writers. It is just really banal and typical songwriting that isn’t cliché enough to even bother reacting to.
I really hate to end a review like this, and I was hoping that I would never have to, but there is just nothing more I can possibly say about this album. It isn’t outwardly bad enough for me to feel excited about hating, but it isn’t by any means good. It’s just sort of there. I get the feeling that if Guns ‘n’ Roses still had their own dedicated band of followers that this band would be throwing on the spandex and ripping off “Welcome to the Jungle”. If you are looking for really mediocre alt-country or lame Americana, I guess this would be right up your alley, but otherwise, stay far away from this.