What Not To See: Afterparty

Certain diction gags me. Word amalgamations like "Retro Pop Punk" really chew at me like a tapeworm. Equally disgusting is Afterparty, a six-piece nightmare that describes their sound as, "Blondie meets The Clash in rehab."

Wrong. Rehab, maybe, but Mick Jones and Joe Strummer actually knew how to create compelling riffs and melodies. In "Strength In Magazines", the "bah-bah-bahbahbah" choppiness of Avital and Lavi's guitars falls short of an epic masterpiece.

Blondie, for example, has a soft voice that flows over the eardrums like water. Kristina sounds like Britney Spears and S-Club 7 colliding on the teacups, with jarring shifts in decibel level, breathiness and awkwardly extended words (the "ignoooooooooore" in "Tokyo Blonde" immediately comes to mind). Such cataclysmic chaos screams of amateurism and a voice that hasn't quite found its niche.

Serious techno producers will cringe when they hear the lousy "build" in "Strength In Magazines" that echoes Funkmaster Flex's Digital Hitz Factory for PS2. While bands like Depeche Mode continue to push the appeal of 80s synth further into the mainstream, pond slime like Afterparty fails to impress.

The explosion of female vocalists is no surprise in the Toronto scene, especially with the continued success of Metric and Broken Social Scene. If you've ever seen Veruca Salt or Bikini Kill, you know girls CAN rock. However, the rising number of cheap imitation artists rivals the emo scene in both its insincerity and sheer bulk.

Their bio drips an uninspired dishrag of a story about how the singer and keyboardist first met at an afterparty (how telling!) and shared their different outlooks. Their mock interview, while avant-garde, would never turn industry heads.

I guess I just get discouraged sometimes (like when I hear The Edge praising Magneta Lane as God's gift to music) and I question the public's ability to discern natural-talent-meets-hardwork from bored, poorly versed try-too-hards in a world of Myspace popularity contests and networking-to-stardom. Deep down, I suspect the light will shine through the muck. In "Your Love So Retro" Kristina croons, "I'm livin in denial, babe-ah" and I sigh. At least we can agree on something.

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