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MUSIC REVIEW

Getting ‘Sinomatic’ With It

New Band, Produced by 3EB Veteran, Puts Out Generic but Catchy Rock

By Roshan Baliga
PHOTOGRAPHY EDITOR

Sinomatic (Self-Titled Debut)

Atlantic Records

$11.97

From the CD’s opening chords, I knew it was going to be different. “Sinomatic,” an alternative rock band from Youngstown, Ohio, released their self-titled debut CD two weeks ago to little fanfare. However, their CD caught my ear because from the beginning it sounded far more refined than many other of the “undiscovereds.”

The band, which consists of three guitarists, a bass player, and a drummer, has recorded an energetic debut album that seems made for radio. Their heavily-produced sound can be heard first on “Bloom,” Sinomatic’s first single. The song, which showcases lead singer Ken Cooper’s vocal abilities and the band’s upbeat guitar work, was clearly made to attack the airwaves. From a catchy chorus to a catchy guitar riff, “Bloom” exemplifies the album’s desire for mainstream acceptance. In fact, “Bloom” and the next track, “You’re Mine,” sound exactly like the rock I would expect to hear on the radio.

If these guys are hoping to be the next band on WBCN, they’ve got a fighting chance. However, if they actually hope to “shake up the current state of music,” as their promotional materials state, they’ve got a way to go.

Sinomatic’s guitar work is their strongest facet, though it reminds me of a mix of older Collective Soul and newer Goo Goo Dolls. Sinomatic’s interesting guitar layering can be heart on the fourth track, “Candyskin.” Unfortunately the song also features a guitar solo that sounds just like the guitar solos of other bands.

“Candyskin” reminded me of Third Eye Blind’s work, which isn’t surprising since Sinomatic’s producer, Eric Valentine, did production work for Third Eye Blind’s debut album as well. Valentine, who also produced four albums for Smash Mouth, has clearly influenced the sound of this album. That’s not to say that the band isn’t talented, but it never hurts to have a good producer on board. Valentine’s production skills can clearly be heard on the sixth track, “Girlfriend.” It is during this song that we first hear the subtle nuances of flange and background distortion. However, since “Girlfriend” is one of the album’s weaker songs, it probably won’t get any airplay.

The most likely song to make Sinomatic popular is “My Time.” Though the lyrics aren’t very meaningful, the softer guitar riffs and repetitive chorus should appeal to a broader audience.

Like most debut CDs, the first few tracks seem more refined than the tracks near the end of the album. However Sinomatic’s later tracks, including “Seven Days,” are more original, and show promise to actually redefine rock as Sinomatic claims to desire. The addition of a violin in this song is a nice touch, though the song probably won’t get any airplay until the unlikely event that Sinomatic gains a large following.

Sinomatic’s weak links seem to be their lyrics and slower songs, such as “Leave Me Tomorrow”. I would expect the band to show more musical skill in these slower numbers, but they don’t. While most of the positive aspects of their CD might very well be to the credit of their producer, I would expect Sinomatic to put on a good live show. With three guitarists, their live performances should be able to match the effective layering heard on the CD, and as a new band looking for attention, they should be energetic. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to be coming to Boston anytime soon. However, if you happen to be around the midwest during the next month, you can find them touring with Buckcherry.

Despite Sinomatic’s shortcomings, I wouldn’t count them out yet. Their music may mature on future CDs, as they branch out and write lyrics on topics other than their girlfriends. It’s also possible that their music could become mainstream. While many people will deny liking mainstream music because it’s mainstream, it’s clearly not the worst thing that could happen to a band. I’d rate Sinomatic as my best random find since Unified Theory’s debut CD last August. If you’re looking for quality lyrics, look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for catchy alternative rock to accompany those late night problem sets, look no further than Sinomatic.