You know you want him

By the

February 8, 2001

I just don’t understand. Or maybe I do, and it really is just trash.

Listen: There’s this band named “In and of Itself” and I happened to come by a free copy of their debut CD and a press release about the band. Normally, I wouldn’t write about something like that, but the horrible listening experience that followed merited one of two things: a violent rash of vomiting or an album review. I chose the latter.

The New York-based band is led by Stephen King (Not the same guy, but just as frightening), a classically trained trombonist who studied at Juilliard. King graces (or disgraces?) the album cover by kneeling in some pseudo-dramatic pose, staring at a lone rose lying on the floor of what looks like someone’s track-house garage. And did I mention that he’s naked? Sadly, he looks like a cross between Henry Rollins and Sloth from The Goonies.

I just don’t understand. Why is he naked? Does his music “strip” him down to his very soul? Does he take pride in his gooey pectorals? And, Steve, baby, stop pretending to be deep and intellectual with that “symbolic” rose. The only thing it represents is the red you’re going to be in after this album goes the way of your trombone career.

But back to the band. King’s vocals and guitar are supported by Rob Elrick on bass, whose liner-note picture reminds me of that guy from middle school who always wore the Slayer T-shirt and dirty black jeans. He has a greasy pony-tail to boot.

The rhythm section is completed by Dave Pavkovic, who composes music for live theater and musicals in Chicago. He also has a master’s degree in music performance and composition.

I don’t get it. Apparently these guys have a lot of talent, but not when it comes to making decent rock ‘n roll music. So why try?

Basically, this album sounds like Jean Valjean singing with Slipknot in the background. Only a really bad version of Jean Valjean and a really bad version of Slipknot, who are really bad anyway. So, like I said, they’re really bad. He almost sounds like Thom Yorke at one point in the song “Balance,” but that moment disappears quickly.

The press release declares that In and of Itself blends the “metered structure of modern rock” with “mercurial free-form poetry.” Ah yes, mercurial; a common euphamism for “I don’t understand what the hell you are saying, and you probably don’t either, but you have that poetic license cop-out.”

Really though, what do lyrics like “popularity is gone and has turned me into a whore” actually mean? Oh wait, he’s selling himself to the mainstream and abandoning his true classical roots. I get it now.

King says about his lyrics that “these songs, for the most part, paint a picture of where I have been thus far in my life emotionally”

The track “Joshua” may illustrate such depth with the lyric “A little older now, Joshua grew to know the power and joy of love/But wasn’t ready for the pain and jealousy that rained down on him from heavens above.” My, my. These don’t sound like the musings of a young trombonist on his way to Juilliard. King just couldn’t find anything to rhyme with “sell-out,” so he settled for these easily contived verses.

His lyrics lack a sincere attempt at creativity, are full of cliches and totally fail to establish King as a legitimate songwriter. For example: “So high when I’m up/So down on the ground.” Duh. Blah. Stop.

I’m sorry. He’s probably a really nice guy, but King’s efforts are futile. No thanks to Rob and Dave, either, whose back-up music is wholly ineffectual and unoriginal.

These people need to stop. I end with one of their simple lyrics that seem to typify this gross venture: “Ladies, gentlemen, pride, tradition/All being forgotten for our new-age mission.” Exactly.

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