Default: The Fallout

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By Stephanie Dickison

In this oddity of a musical time where Three Doors Down, Lifehouse, Nickleback, Staind, Incubus and even Linkin Park sit comfortably beside Mary J. Blige, Lenny Kravitz and Radiohead, it is hard to not think of the “rock group” (misleadingly pitched into “pop” bins at CD stores near you) as sounding homogenous and indistinct. Especially when they are all hearty, throaty, impassioned vocalists like those fronting Three Doors Down, Lifehouse, Nickleback, etc. However, they are as individual as Smokey Robinson, Luther Van Dross and Marvin Gaye, I assure you.

Enter Default, a Canadian band that came out with a CD, The Fallout and released the single, “Waiting”. No biggie, right?

With the CD released July 17, 2001, “Waiting” got huge radio airplay and moved them up on the Billboard charts. Today, October 30th, they sit at the 14 position on the Billboard “Heatseekers” list, which details the latest movers and shakers. And, they are currently on tour with Nickleback, who received the “Greatest Gainer” title on this week’s Billboard 200. Pretty impressive for a previously unknown band from British Columbia.

Most of the press has been downplaying the band’s sound and noting the “luck” that has befallen them—their first demo was given to Chad Kroeger, Nickleback member; a Vancouver rock station that had given them steady airplay of their second single, “Deny”—but this is not what makes the audience listen. If they weren’t any good, they would not be climbing the charts. Simple as that.

Default is undoubtedly going to be chunked in with Staind, etc., but in the music world, it is difficult to not slot them in with similar sounding groups. As you may recall, when another noted Canadian artist, Nelly Furtado first burst on the scene, the media went into a frenzy trying to figure out how to market her—was she hip-hop, pop . . .? She has been able to sidestep categorization, but Default will remain with the rock heavy hitters title - but this isn’t a bad thing.

“Wasting My Time”, the first single and one of the most powerful songs, sounds eerily like Silverchair’s “Tomorrow”. The earnestness, the emotion, the voice - it’s all there. Chills down to your toes. “Seize the Day” is Stone Temple Pilot-ish. Very “Plush” to me. “Somewhere” is reminiscent of Pearl Jam’s “Jeremy”, but none of this matters, none of this is fair, none of this is completely true. It’s just the listener’s lazy way of comparison.

“One Late Night” is a hit-just-waiting-to-happen, but “Live a Lie” is one of their best songs, both musically and vocally. Dallas Smith, lead vocalist, can tend to be a breathy, a bit too hearty, but there are notes and words that he evokes that set me on the edge of my seat, breathless, waiting, waiting, waiting for more of the same.

Produced by Rick Parasher (of Pearl Jam - Ten and Alice In Chains—SAP), the CD has the professional sound of rock without being too polished, too slick for repeated listening. With the recent success of Rock Star, starring Mark Wahlberg as a wannabe rock star who becomes the lead singer of the most successful rock band of its time, it is hard not to get caught up in the heavy guitar riffs and powerful vocals that leap off this CD. The boys will need to look to touring buddies Nickleback and Seven Channels to work on their next album. For a debut, it is excellent. But up against the other heavy-guitar, heartily vocalized bands like the aforementioned, they have their work cut out for them.

But it seems they’re in no rush to get to the top, to get ahead of the road laid out before them. Apparently, this road is littered with amps and a lot of cable. Recently spotted in Los Angeles, taking down their own equipment, Dallas Smith said they’d done it before, they knew how.

With that kind of honesty and along with a great sound, they might just surprise you and knock the Stainds of the world on their ass. Wouldn’t that be something?

Published at: http://www.popmatters.com/pm/review/default-fallout/