Ah, the joys of “alternative” pop/rock. The endless counting off of variations on what remains, really, less than a handful of themes. The reason why peoples musical tastes seem to fossilize as they get older (pass me the Stephen Duffy mix tape and Breakfast Club soundtrack, please) is that only as you get older do you realize the basic truth of the famous remark, “there is nothing new under the sun.” Only shades. Some are darker, some are lighter, but none of it—or at best, very little—is new. The biggest hits of today are, with the benefit of experience, merely this years model. All of the above is not said to discount that there is fine work being done today that means as much to it’s presumed target demographic as my favorites did and do to me, I assume it does. All of the above is said as preamble to the statement that Paxton’s Ginger’s Dish four-song EP does as much for it’s genre as many, but less than some. Paxton’s melodies are his strongest suit, the hooks do not sledgehammer their way into your brain but will pop up in it again after listening to the EP a few times. The musicianship is competent if uninspiring. But now we come to the lyrics. Oh dear. The following is a sample lyric, from the song “A Little Better”: “Yesterday you pissed on me / Tomorrow you’ll be history / The rest is just a mystery / Oh, yeaaaah!”
Not since Cole Porter or perhaps Gershwin have I seen such…okay, yes, I’m kidding. Paxton is to good lyrics what Rosie O’Donnell is to good taste and refinement. The occasional oh-so clever lines jump out in contrast to the others, but even they are mostly on the wisdom level of bumper stickers combined with pop-culture references, such as this from “What’s it like to be you?”: “This is not a dress rehearsal / Life’s not a Gap commercial!”
Paxton and others like him also ought to pin a note to their wall reminding themselves to be cautious in directly invoking the Beatles. Weary as I am of the Hollywood-style deification of the lads of Liverpool, the fact remains they were one of the few times there was something new under the sun. And if all you can do is appropriate a line of theirs for your own—the opening line of “Norwegian Wood” slips into “How The Love Turns Around” here—and follow it with a guttural shout, well all I can do is wince at your affectation.
You can live without this EP. There are better ways to spend your money this month.
// Notes from the Road
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