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Blue Panic

Hypnotize Yourself and Others

Gratus/Mt. Fuji Records

There's nothing wrong with imitation, in fact, some say it's the highest form of flattery. But in the rock-and-roll world, imitation is a two-edged sword. One one hand, sounding like the day's popular bands will get you fans who want nothing more than the greatest hits of the '80s and '90s repackaged in a bright, shiny box. The price is having to deal with the asshole critics, who will skewer you like a well-fed pig for diefying your heroes.

Omaha's Blue Panic wears its influences too brightly in a genre that prefers its cloth to be faded flannel. "Hypnotize Yourself and Others" is a Where's Waldo of early to mid-90s grunge/rock bands sewn together in an a well-played, though altogether too familiar package. "From Here" is Social Distortion with the same snearing vocals. The accoustic-driven "Through Occular Cavities" and "Only One" are low-key Pearl Jam tributes, minus the depth. "Insult" and "Ever After" ape Nirvana, complete with Lithium-style chords and Cobain-esque whine/mumble vocals. And so on.

Of the three influences, the band does Nirvana best, probably because the CD's production is as minimal as a Steve Albini's. Other than a poor drum mix, the disc's overall sound is OK, though the mixer seems to have struggled getting these guys to sound like a cohesive unit rather than a patchwork of blended tracks.

It's the few times on "Hynotize…" where the influences are less severe, such as the driving "Monument," and the bluesy, bongo-accompanied "Where I Stand," that Blue Panic shows potential. Judging by the embarrassing pics on inside CD sleeve, these guys are right out of high school, so they can be forgiven for raising their grunge fists so high. No one loved Nirvana more than I did, but perhaps it's time to let Cobain have a well-deserved rest and get on with something else. Only when Blue Panic finally turns its back on the past will we finally get to hear what's on their minds.

Contact info: P.O. Box 34481, Omaha, NE  68134

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Copyright 1999 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved. Published in The Reader, July 8, 1999.








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