When the Bravery followed its ballyhooed South by Southwest appearance with the release of its debut disc, the backlash began. Wise witnesses saw hacks cashing in on a hip sound. But the group's detractors were so vitriolic that some misguided souls made appeals on the band's behalf, creating Bravery-backlash backlash. To give the group due process, we carefully considered the charges against these defendants.
Charge: Bravery vocalist Sam Endicott stands accused of shameless sandbagging.
Evidence: Endicott did time in a group called Skabba the Hut, where he sported blond dreadlocks, used the stage name "Chewskacca" and coined the tagline "Bust a Nut with Skabba the Hut." Assuming his newfound affection for '80s sounds is genuine (debatable, given its emergence at the peak of the retro movement's popularity), Endicott could have formed a geeky sci-fi outfit such as Aquabats or Epoxies without inciting ire. But there really is nothing more unfathomably lame than a horny, Star Wars-obsessed ska band.
In his defense: Endicott mercifully sat out the nü-metal movement.
Charge: The Bravery remains entangled in a ridiculous rivalry with the Killers.
Evidence: Apparently, the music world isn't big enough for two fashionable-yet-fetid keyboard-powered groups. The Killers' Brandon Flowers griped to MTV that the Bravery rode his coattails to success, adding, "People will see through them." Endicott sniped back, telling a San Francisco radio station, "I feel bad talking about him because it's like hitting a girl."
In the band's defense: If these two groups stage a battle -- with the loser agreeing to retirement -- and somehow duel their way to mutual destruction, they'll save the world from a future fraught with abysmal trend-hopping albums.
Marquee Theatre in Tempe
Scheduled to perform on Monday, October 17
Charge: The Bravery's music sucks. Seriously, it could pull a cherry from the bottom of a whiskey sour through a straw.
Evidence: Even though it merges elements of ABC, Dead Can Dance and Mooney Suzuki, the Bravery incorporates an almost impressive array of aural atrocities: soul-bereft disco high-hats, squealing solo-studded rawk and an amalgam of frilly ambiance and fey grooves that begs the phrase "New-Age-wave."
In the band's defense: There's some decent drumming on the record, though with two members credited with "programming" in the liner notes, it's hard to tell which percussive parts came from a keyboard.
Charge: The Bravery's lyrics make its music look masterful.
Evidence: Endicott's lyrics range from idiotic to banal, without an inspired exception. The following lines are his worst: "You put the broke in broken-hearted/You put the art in retarted [sic]."
In the band's defense: During the apologetically titled "An Honest Mistake," Endicott murmurs, "Sometimes I forget I'm still awake/I fuck up and say these things out loud." He's citing the Prince precedent ("I was dreaming when I wrote this"), apparently forgetting that this excuse remained valid only until the close of 1999.
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Verdict: We find the band guilty on all counts. To paraphrase The Simpsons' road-raging judge, we sentence the Bravery to kiss our ass.