Duotang: The Bright Side / The Intentions: self-titled

The Bright Side

The Intentions
The Intentions
(Mighty Midget Music)

by Jason Thompson

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They Called It “Rock”

Here we are with two “newer” releases that do absolutely nothing for me. Hence, I have coupled them as a two-for-one deal in this review. Occasionally you are faced with music so benign that it’s often hard to come up with words to describe just how bored you get from listening to it. This is my attempt at doing just that. Yes, I know I’ve tackled this situation before with the likes of Melvern Taylor, et al, but that doesn’t make it any easier to approach yet again.

Frankly, I enjoy music that moves me one way or another. You know, I love it or I hate it, or I like it but it could use a bit of work. Duotang and the Intentions don’t elicit any of those feelings from me. Instead, they both just kind of make me say “feh” and get on with my life. Both of these discs feature bands that either seem like they formed in the wrong decade, or that they’re just your basic garage band next door fronted by your neighbor’s kids.

Duotang fits in the former category. The songs on The Bright Side can’t decide if they want to be punk, New Wave, lo-fi, straight rock, or something from that now-foggy “alternative” side of the tracks. The opening track “Bitterman” is prefaced with that overused scratchy record sound effect that Spacehog has currently proven pointless on each of their releases. However, it’s the last interesting thing you’ll hear on this album as Duotang tries to figure out just what they want to do with their sound.

For the most part, their tunes are bass riff-driven, meaning all the bottom is now at the top, making the production sound thin overall. Add to that lead singer Rod’s annoying penchant for searching all over for a melody in his songs and you wind up with a musical headache. Rod can never sit tight for very long when crooning his tunes. Instead, he meanders like a lost child in search of the lost chord (take that, Moody Blues fans!), stumbling over the already fragile notes issuing from the instruments. He also tries to say too much. On “The Evidence Comes From All Directions”, a song that could have very well been good, Rod sings “The evidence comes from all directions / Despite attempts to curve the senses / The evidence comes from all directions / It burns its way through the sad defenses / I always try to keep a space / For us to evolve in, I’m constantly solving / The vexing points / But my imagination seethes”. Yeah, OK, that’s great. You killed the melody and the almost-groove of the song with your faux collegiate attempts at meaning. Blah.

Needless to say, Duotang is not Bad Religion, and their pretentious ways knock them down again and again. Thin music, bad vocals, poor production, and a sense of arriving way too late cripples the entire disc. Given the band’s Blues Brothers-like appearance on the back sleeve photo, I would have expected something a bit more from these guys. But even their band name seems weak. Chuck Molgat chimes in with some dippy liner notes that let’s us know this is Duotang’s third album. I never heard the first two. The Bright Side doesn’t make me want to hear future releases.

So what about the Intentions? Ahh, toss these guys into the alternative-with-a-hint-of-ska pile. Another band that seems to be arriving a bit behind the times, the Intentions are a trio made up of Ian McIntryre, Jef McLarnon, and Jon McCann. Together, they make capable but not very memorable pop that countless other bands have provided over the past few years. I am guessing that this is perhaps a self-released venture, as no info was available on either the band or “Mighty Midget Music” at the time of this writing.

I’m guessing these guys also hail from Canada, as the album was recorded in Toronto. As such, I hate to place the “comedy” stricker on these guys, but intended or not, it does apply here. Sounding like a poor man’s Barenaked Ladies minus the overall talent and wry drive, the Intentions deliver such ditties as “You Live With Your Parents”, “Here I Go Again On My Own” (with nasally vocals that squash all hopes of this being a nod to Whitesnake), and “Mary Houdini”. At times, the vocals are too loud as on “Mary”, at other times, they’re just downright painful, like on “Mirror Glass”. Often they only shift between being shouted and an attempt at being “sung”, but in both cases they’re just plain poor.

The music is what you might expect from a trio like this. It’s tight enough, and shows glimpses of talent here and there, but overall the sound is lacking, the chords repetitive, and the ideas just plain stale. Luckily, most of the songs are under three minutes, save for the last track, “Cellular Communication”, that lasts over eight and quickly becomes an exercise in tolerance. Frankly, more than five minutes of this band is more than enough. You hear two songs, and you basically get the gist of what this band is (or isn’t) all about. Thanks, but I’ll pass.

So there you have it. Two in the bush worth one in the hand. Or something like that. As for me, I’m moving on to groovier tunes that make you clap, sing, jump, and dance with wild abandonment. Or maybe I’ll be headed down another dead end street like I did with these two discs. Ah well, fortunately there’s always a way out of these things. It’s called the eject button. And the pressing of such an item is the best advice I can give you when listening to Duotang or the Intentions.