If I say that bands like I Hate Kate are a dime a dozen these days, it doesn't speak well of dimes—or these days, for that matter. But I seem to be in the minority regarding this Huntington Beach quartet and their debut album, Embrace the Curse (Glassnote Music, out June 24). Esteemed publications such as Alternative Press, Outburn, AMP, Highwire Daze and Saturday Night Magazine have championed I Hate Kate. I'm sorry, but I can't join the praise-a-thon.
Led by ex-Zebrahead vocalist/guitarist Justin Mauriello, I Hate Kate peddle that "compressed to within a millimeter of its life" sound you need to get radio love in the '00s. Embrace the Curse's songs are aspiring teen-pop anthems, with minuscule traces of punk genetic material receding into innocuousness thanks to the wall-of-aspartame production (courtesy of Linus of Hollywood and Mauriello). The predominant effect is like Zebrahead's douche-y pop-punk and typical mall-emo schmaltz laced with feeble emulations of Cheap Trick's power-pop bravado. Mauriello sounds alternately Danny Elfman-esque and constipated, and while his band mates—bassist Scott Hayden, guitarist Jeremy Berghorst and drummer Abel Vallejo—are competent players, the compositions they execute are simply an agglomeration of overly familiar tics gleaned from the past 35 or so years of radio-centric rock. The music on Embrace the Curse goes in one era and right out the other. But if you're too young to drive, your mileage may vary.
Attention Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and a decent high-resolution photo (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to email@example.com.