Submissions to our weekly You Asked For It local CD review column come in all kinds of packaging. We've received everything from CDRs with the title scrawled on the disc in barely-legible Sharpie to thoughtful, handwritten notes with handmade custom art. We've never had anything quite as polished as this press kit from Sketching in Stereo, though. Actually, I'm hard-pressed to think of a national act with a press kit quite this snazzy. Cool art, custom-width paper, gorgeous printing, pull-tabs for the record and a digital press kit. Whoever did this ought to be working for a major label somewhere.
And the music? Well, Sketching in Stereo is solid, too, though their EP Technicolor Dreams is nowhere near as innovative or perfectly crafted as their press kit.
The band lists their influences as Muse, 30 Seconds to Mars and Foo Fighters and it's clear they're not reaching for anything beyond than that, which may be the problem. If you want your band to sound like Food Fighters aim for Tom Petty covering the Minute Men and hope to land at The Colour and the Shape.
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Technicolor Dreams opens with "No Direction," a straight-ahead slab of radio rock. It's got a few frills -- a nice little acoustic opening and a warbly guitar solo -- but it's the sort of generic post-grunge song that could've been made any time in the last decade. Same goes for "Haystack Home," with it's tick-tack opening and overdramatic assertion that, "Each needle needs a haystack, oooh."
"Subterfuge" has vocalist Rob Howlett at his best, and by that I mean his most typical. I imagine his ability to sound like the kind of low-register Chris Cornell everyone else on "alternative rock" radio does nowadays will strike many as an asset, but I can't stand it. If you like Daughtry, though, you'd probably dig it.
The disc is well produced and the last song, "Interloper," hints at something a little more interesting, with a pleasantly cold keyboard melody to open things, a refrain that's growled a little more believably than those on the rest of the record, and a screechy guitar solo that's definitely the EP's high point. If they can head in that direction, I'd be interested to see what Sketching in Stereo could do on their next EP. Heck, I'd look forward to it if only to see to what strange new heights they could propel the art of the press kit.