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Funeral Party
The Golden Age Of Knowhere
RCA Records
www.funeralpartymusic.com


Us east coast rockers have the privilege of boasting about and parading our assortment of American-bred alternative rock acts. NYC, after all, is the city from which The Strokes and The Bravery emerged. Even far and away, to Britain and beyond, we have seen a rock culture dominated by the dance-rock grooves of Foals, Bloc Party, and The Arctic Monkeys. But where is a rebuttal from the west coast? It seems we have a geographic gap, a missing piece from our coastal music scene. The answer is Funeral Party, an LA-based group consisting of Chad Elliot, James Lawrence Torres, Kimo Kauhola and Tim Madrid. The band's debut album, The Golden Age Of Knowhere, fits the prerequisites for the upcoming, "must watch" 2011 band of the year - a mix of off-beat hi hats, clashing guitars, and, of course, a lead singer that sounds like Julian Casablancas. But something's off. Despite, the charm that The Golden Age Of Knowhere holds, listening to the album often feels like a cop out, or a derivative of something better. It's like buying the store-brand version of Fruit Loops, or like looking at your best friend's test while the teacher glances away - the answer is right, but it's just not the best way of getting it.

The majority of Funeral Party's first release sounds undoubtedly similar to dozens of other bands. And that is unfortunate, as the group's chemistry wants to billow over the top of indie rock's sterile beaker. The band is impeccably rehearsed and for a debut they have accrued a collection of fine pop songs that might take other bands half of a career to write. However, relying on formulaic structures puts you right where the science wants you; algebraic, predictable, replicable, and sadly, blasé. The album does, however, lend itself to brief moments of clarity, ingenuity, and, perhaps most appropriately, party inspiration. These sparse events, notably the dueling wah-wah guitars on the second track "Car Wars," the John Legend "Waiting For The World To Change" breakdown in "The Golden Age Of Knowhere," and the Foals' drum groove in "Postcards Of Persuasion," often come with impeccable timing - just when one is about toss the disc into a pile of other broken-dream Strokes-wanna-bes (see: The Answering Machine) Funeral Party manages to patch up the sinking ship with a few nuts and bolts from other sources. Thus, The Golden Age Of Knowhere, does not like "Funeral Party," but rather encapsulates the sounds of the past decade of rock music, a grim reality that has resulted in a predictable debut from a band that will most likely soon be forgotten.

-Parker Tichko

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