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Joydrop

Houston Press Music Awards' featured act

Seen by the suits at her U.S. label as Canada's answer to Gwen Stefani, Joydrop's Tara Slone, the part-time TV action star and practicing Buddhist, is vying to become MTV's latest pop-rock hottie. Yes, indeed, Tommy "I'm No Has-been" Lee plays Slone's "love interest" in the video for "Sometimes Wanna Die," the first single from the Toronto band's forthcoming release, Viberate, due to hit shelves on July 17.

Though rowdies at concerts beg her to lift her shirt, and though a DJ once told her that his audience knew all about his desire for a few hours' worth of horizontal rugby with her, Slone sings more about inner beauty and peace than about the kind of racy images that zip across rock videos.

Temperamentally, Slone is like Alanis Morissette in that neither wears her Canadian identity on her sleeve. Musically, they're kilometers apart. As obnoxious as ostentatious Maple Leafing may be to some Americans, a far worse habit is to sing affectedly, a trap that Morissette (and Stefani, too) lapses into all too often. Slone never does. Her operatic vocal training is most definitely not wasted. She holds notes with just the right hint of vibrato, thus creating a dreamy sound on top of the crunching guitars and synth samples.

It was a wise move to hire producer and fellow Canuck GGGarth Richardson, who helped shape Rage Against the Machine's aggro-rock sound. The acid-trip instrumentation goes a long way. As for the lyrics, drummer Tony Rabalao, bassist Tom McKay and guitarist Thomas Payne each take turns with writing credits, while the bitching on "American Dreamgirl" is all Slone's creation.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the group matures and can take its simplistic rhyming couplets to a more gut-wrenching, brooding and, um, Canadian kind of level.

 
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