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Various Artists, Cheap Date (Columbia)
The major label roster sampler. It's not a particularly inspired art form. About all it's good for is picking up a few singles from up-and-coming artists that you've read about, heard on the radio, or seen on TV for whom don't feel particularly compelled to buy (or download) whole albums. Columbia's Cheap Date sampler, which features male rock bands and artists almost exclusively, achieves exactly this purpose. You get the catchy "In a Young Man's Mind" by the Mooney Suzuki, a cut from Pete Yorn's newest album, and some mildly cute-but-generic pop punk from the Ataris. You also get some sludge rock with an '80s power ballad vocal from Stereomud, a track from Crossfade that sounds so much like Nickelback it hurts even more than the original, and a fair number of hard rock songs from bands who probably can't even tell themselves apart. Stylistically limited as it is, Cheap Date doesn't hold together as a cohesive listening experience -- the people who go for the hard rock tracks are unlikely to also be into the quirky blue-eyed soul of the Coral's "Dreaming of You", those who like the electronica of Overseer will despise the pop-punk of Trouble Is -- but then, it's not intended to. Like most cheap dates, there are moments of enjoyment but probably not enough to make you respect yourself in the morning.
Christine Di Bella