The Politics Of Person
By: Eric G.
If The Obscure could somehow incorporate a visual image into its artwork that represents its carefree, ball-breaking big rock sound I imagine it might help procure more reviews more quickly. This CD sat on my desk for months simply because it looked awful. I know you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover, but it's almost impossible not to do so these days what with the amount of pure trash that's peddled in the name of independent rock.
(Note to unsigned bands: never include a sticker on the front of your CD suggesting which tracks you recommend. Nobody cares what you think about your music, and it makes you look corporate and seedy. That kind of bullshit game is for major labels to play with cheesy radio stations- not bands that self-release their albums hoping for exposure).
So graphic design is not The Obscure's forte. That's easily forgiven once the guitars start to crunch, though. "Paradox" may open with awkward jazzy noodlings, but the heavy blast of power rock that follows is worth the wait. Aggressive yet tuneful vocals ride the surge of guitars. The Obscure is bent on showing off its strange amalgam of styles (surf, punk, funk, power pop, metal, etc). "The Human Condition" unwisely opts for a groovy sixties sort of jam feel in its verses, but the hooks in the chorus are strong enough to mask the weaknesses, especially when the distortion kicks in.
The band truly shines when it sticks to simple, bone-crunching rock and roll- everything else is just a diversion. "Give Up" mixes British invasion-style energy with 60's surf rock. The vocals are husky and full of attitude and snarled into the microphone without sounding haughty, and the garage rock atmosphere adds to the lo-fi aesthetic. "Those Commie Bastards" proves the band's versatility is for real, but it's a derivative, Venture's-style surf rock instrumental (although, the Sean Connery samples are a nice touch).
The Obscure is all about party rock, but this CD has a film of stale studio mildew suppressing much of the energy and aggression that would probably flourish live. Some of the styles are questionable ("The American Scene" dabbles in white rap- always a bad idea), but at its core The Obscure has the chops to pull off a solid collection of heavy, high-energy rock songs.