April, 2001
R.I.Y.L.
Weezer, Cake,
Fountains of Wayne
Cropduster
Drunk Uncle (We Put Out)

Hoboken, New Jersey’s Cropduster purportedly named their second effort Drunk Uncle because the band members call each other “Uncle.” It’s not the most inventive nickname, but it is appealing in a sophomoric way, like something the guys on Friends might come up with. Cropduster’s songs teeter on the same fine line, the one between endearing and stupid, packing in tight alterna pop hooks and quirky instrumental breaks (involving the likes of cowbells matched with distorted guitars) like the ones that Cake and Fountains of Wayne built their names on back in the mainstream modern rock heyday of 1996. But that was a long time ago, and these days, Cropduster’s Marc Maurizi offers a cocksure, jokey lyrical style (“Five, six, they always follow three and four”; “Got a lot of friends/they all know my name”) and nasal, Mellow Gold croon that too often come across an act; worse, there’s the sense that maybe that act has the band itself, fooled too.

That’s not to say that the quartet’s music isn’t catchy and well played -- tracks like “People Person” (about hating People magazine) and “Mind Rock,” the record’s most fuzz-laden and least self-consciously ironic number, are rollickingly strummy. And with production slick as a bowling alley, at the very least, Cropduster doesn’t sound like a bunch of wannabe mainstream alternarockers -- they sound like the real thing.

By: Dylan Siegler

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