February 8, 2006

CD Review: Xenn - The Eleventh Hour

Xenn is a rock trio hailing from the island nation of Trinidad. Wasn't sure what to expect when I slipped the disk into the player, but I had a few suspicions of what they would sound like. The results were a little mixed. On one hand, I expected a rock sound with a decent mix of some island textures, what I got was a more straight up rock sound. That isn't a bad thing.

The Eleventh Hour is full of tight music and interesting textures. It is simultaneously original and accessible, something that is missing from a lot of what you hear on current pop radio. It is always good when a band comes along that brings a little originality to the table.

The album starts of strong with "Ungrateful," opening with a lilting bit of guitar before breaking into rock riff, finally bringing in the vocals. This is one of the stronger songs on the album. The lyrical track follows a man who gave everything to a woman who essentially took it and him for granted before walking away. That is followed by "Out of Love," another track of love lost.

None of the songs really stand out, yet they all have a groove that keeps you listening. It is that rock sound, but with other undertones which make the album as a whole step away from the norm. I also noticed that stepping away from the album for awhile, in favor of my usual haunts, and then coming back has revealed even more from the album.

The strongest part of Xenn are their guitar textures. The rhythms are easy to get into and have a great sound to them. They are backed by a sharp, simple drums. I don't mean simple in a negative way, but they are to the point and fit the music well. I would have to say that my biggest problem with them is the singing, at times it just sounds bad. The vocals are fine when he keeps singing in short groups, but anytime he holds a note it inevitably turns into a warble, and at times takes me out of the music. Over the course of the album, I found it to be a detriment to the music.

Bottomline. This is a good album that has some very good rock songs too it. Strong guitars and sharp drums are the highlight, not to mention some fine song writing. Xenn is definitely a band worth checking out, if you're in the mood for a little something different.



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