Music

Craving Theo: self-titled

Adrien Begrand

Craving Theo

Craving Theo

Label: Sony
US Release Date: 2002-01-22
Amazon
iTunes

How to become a corporate rock star, in six easy steps:

  1. Think of a name that will stick in people's heads, no matter how stupid. Like Hoobastank.
  2. Facial hair is crucial, be it goatee, soul patch, Van Dyke, or whatever.
  3. Blatantly steal your sound from either Pearl Jam, Alice In Chains, or Nirvana. Copy Candlebox, when all else fails.
  4. Your singer must possess a manly, raspy voice, and should mimic either Eddie Vedder, Layne Staley, or Kurt Cobain.
  5. Song topics must alternate between testosterone-infused mosh pit anthems and "poor, poor me", Aaron Lewis-style complaining, sung with no trace of irony whatsoever.
  6. You must have absolutely nothing relevant to say.

Craving Theo succeed on five of the above steps. The only thing wrong is the name. As soon as you read the name "Craving Theo", you instantly forget it, and the fact that Craving Theo's music is even more forgettable doesn't help things. When a band names generic nu-metallers Godsmack, of all people, among its major influences like Craving Theo does, you have no choice but to lower your expectations. Still, that bar is much too lofty for the Portland, Oregon outfit, as they try desperately to rawk like it's 1992, and fail miserably.

I look at this eponymous CD of theirs and think, there's nothing here. Craving Theo is trying awfully hard to sound like Alice In Chains (though I also hear some 1988 Ozzy-era Zakk Wylde in the guitar work), even employing the services of former Alice In Chains producer Rick Parashar. There are plenty of sludgy, Jerry Cantrell guitar riffs, and singer Calvin Baty's vocals are layered exactly like Layne Staley's, but it all sounds like Alice In Chains playing their weakest songs over and over. If they're going to pretend to be AIC, where's their "Rooster", their "Man in a Box", their "Would?"? It's like paint-by-numbers: it's not bad from a distance, but up close, it looks artificial and completely lacking in originality (conversely, the now-defunct Drain STH did an excellent job copying Alice In Chains on their terrific album, Freaks of Nature).

Also, whatever happened to the days when hard rock bands sang about Satan, witchcraft, Greek mythology, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and their heartfelt desire to rock? When Alice In Chains sang "Sea of Sorrow" in 1990, it was wicked cool, a welcome change from the bombast that dominated 1980s metal. Eddie Vedder and Billy Corgan took the personal themes a bit further, which was fine, but ten years later, it's this introspective, Sensitive Guy style that seems tired (which probably explains the rising popularity of the perpetually silly Andrew WK), but Craving Theo carries on this overused tradition that still dominates rock radio. Their vocalist, and sole songwriter, Calvin Baty, shoulders all the blame here. The following sampling of lyrics from this album says it all: "Can't get a fix what's killing me . . . I'm dying slowly . . . Confusion, all I want to know . . . All I got is trash left at my door . . . Inside this place of sorrow / Life begins to end . . . I have died inside . . . Might as well just lie / Down in the street . . . Will life change the empty hurt inside . . . Walk with me down / The path of my destruction . . . Pain is now what surrounds you . . . Our time together drained the life out of me". Oh, shut up, already.

The songs on Craving Theo never rise above mildly tolerable. "When" kicks off with a bizarre R.E.M. riff, a musical direction that completely (and refreshingly) clashes with the rest of the album -- that is, until the crunchy guitars rear their ugly heads and Baty sings the vomit-inducing chorus "When I was younger / I thought about dreams of tomorrow." The song that comes closest to standing out is "Stomp", the album's requisite Mosh Anthem. If anything, it's a silly, guilty pleasure, a bit like Drowning Pool's cheerfully insipid wrestling anthem "Bodies", but if Craving Theo wants to match Drowning Pool's fleeting commercial success, they'd better hope a WWF wrestler chooses "Stomp" as his theme song. Besides, nobody these days has managed to match early moshpit classics like Anthrax's "Caught In a Mosh" and Exodus' "Toxic Waltz".

Never has a 37-minute CD seemed so long and tedious. The presence of a band like Craving Theo in today's new music scene is completely useless, except to show us how great a band Alice In Chains was, and how much easier it is to go through the motions and match your favorite band note for note, than to develop that influential sound further while adding your own moments of inspired brilliance that makes a song special. While contemporary bands like System of A Down, Soulfly, Queens of the Stone Age, and Tool continue to elevate hard rock music to higher standards, hack bands like Creed, Linkin Park, Staind, and yes, Craving Theo, take the easy route, knowing full well that banal familiarity equals more airplay on lowest-common-denominator radio. I can't hate this album the same way I despise something like Shelby Lynne's latest album, where it's easy to get angry at genuinely talented artists who choose money-making vapidity over artistic integrity. The sheer mediocrity of Craving Theo, on the other hand, deserves nothing more from listeners than complete indifference . . . but then again, Linkin Park's Hybrid Theory was the best-selling album of 2001, so I suppose anything's possible. Now, where's my copy of Facelift?

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less
Culture

Net Neutrality and the Music Ecosystem: Defending the Last Mile

Still from Whiplash (2014) (Photo by Daniel McFadden - © Courtesy of Sundance Institute) (IMDB)

"...when the history books get written about this era, they'll show that the music community recognized the potential impacts and were strong leaders." An interview with Kevin Erickson of Future of Music Coalition.

Last week, the musician Phil Elverum, a.k.a. Mount Eerie, celebrated the fact that his album A Crow Looked at Me had been ranked #3 on the New York Times' Best of 2017 list. You might expect that high praise from the prestigious newspaper would result in a significant spike in album sales. In a tweet, Elverum divulged that since making the list, he'd sold…six. Six copies.

Keep reading... Show less

Tokyo Nights shines a light on the roots of vaporwave with a neon-lit collection of peak '80s dance music.

If Tokyo Nights sounds like a cheesy name for an album, it's only fitting. A collection of Japanese city pop from the daring vintage record collectors over at Cultures of Soul, this is an album coated in Pepto-Bismol pink, the peak of saccharine '80s dance music, a whole world of garish neon from which there is no respite.

Keep reading... Show less

Jamie Lythcott-Haims gives a voice to the internal dialogue—the self-loathing, really—of living a life as a biracial woman who, for most of her life, wasn't quite sure if she was allowed to call herself black.

About 25 pages in, I realized the irony of my hesitation to review Real American, a new memoir about one's place within the spectrum of race by Jamie Lythcott-Haims, a former Standford dean and successful public speaker.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image