Triggerfish

Life on Dry Land (Self-released)

This Austin-based quintet formed in early 2001, its members coming from a far-flung variety of backgrounds and their ex-bands more numerous than Mickey Rooney's ex-flames. There's nothing Phishy about this aquatically named act -- singer Eric Vaughan, guitarists Frank Crone and Nathan Tokarchik, bassist Jeremy Bennett and drummer Scott Rogers play über-melodic hard rock in the vein of Staind and Saliva, and therein lies the band's dichotomy on this record.

With a cry of "Hell, yeah!" to open the first song, it's the band's more aggressive numbers that are exciting and that grab you by the balls. Vaughan's whiskey-drenched vocal chords and a rain of guitars make tracks like "Southern Train," "My Way for a Day" and the horn-dog anthem "Do You Like It Rough?" quality hard rock material. The anthemic, dead-on hair-band rocker "Pedestal" and the funk-infused "Trash" and "After Dark" also show plenty of musical versatility and stand out from the pack.

However, the record falters -- and does so grandly -- when Vaughan opens his heart to you a few too many times. His tearjerker power ballads are cliché-ridden, both musically and lyrically. Take a gander at these song titles: "Never Mind," "Regret," "Silence" and "Coming Home." All are filled with mopey lovers who can't sleep, can't forget, can't bear to answer the telephone, but hear "voices on the wind." This stuff makes Peter Criss crooning "Beth" seem like a profound Shakespearean tragedy by comparison. The only "dry land" here must be a pocket of the band's creative geography.

Triggerfish, then, is a seafood best served hot, smoking and just a little raw, and the band should consider playing to these considerable strengths first and foremost. If Burt Bacharach were here, he'd say what the world needs now is notanother band looking for its own version of "It's Been Awhile."

 
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