The debut album from perennial pop-punk posers Y Stereo is a huge chode. The band is the latest act to jump on the free music bandwagon, offering What’s Real Anyway on their website in exchange for an email and zip code (Thanks Mike!). It is unclear whether Y Stereo embraced the new music business model from the beginning or whether this is just another ad hoc marketing scheme put into motion after their AbsolutePunk.net ads failed to inspire thirteen-year-old girls to buy the album on iTunes. Either way, the band is touting that the album has already been download 10,000 times, and to that I say that it’s wrong to make your parents create so many different email addresses.
The songs on the album are completely middle of the road. The tracks are neither good nor bad, just predictable progressions and unoriginal arrangements. The appeal of the pop-punk genre is when bands create a straight-forward catchy tune with creative, heartfelt lyrics set to a unique melody. Dues must be paid in the pop-punk scene. You earn respect through cutting your teeth in a live setting and through a DIY ethos. Rather than being born out of natural love for the music, Y Stereo, evolving out of several other failed bands, are trying to play the role of a pop-punk band and fill a niche, but their facade is as clear as the auto-tune smeared all over the record. Singer/songwriter Jonas Friedman seems to have taken a page from the Pete Wentz book, choosing to write about what he thinks his ‘audience’ wants to listen to, rather than creating out of his own inspiration. Songs like “Your Moment,” “A Bad Man” and “Live Without It” are just generic and stereotypical tales void of true emotion and far beyond the actual life experiences of the band’s members. Everything on the album feels forced and calculated. Take the video below.
The faux hi-jinx at the beginning of the clip is 2000-era Blink-182. The acoustic set-up proves they can’t transfer their studio creations to a live setting. And the attempted harmonies? Please. Is this some sort of elaborate Andy Kaufman satire? I agree that new media is an essential part of a band in the new music landscape, but if a band makes a record, (a website, promotional videos, professional photography, etc.) in a vacuum and no one here’s it, does it make a sound?
Aside from the horrible source material, the production on the album is completely over the top. Dozens of guitar tracks, snyths, loops, drums compressed to hell–the post-production sounds like someone defecated on their undeserved home studio soundboard and Pro Tools for Dummies was the only book on the shelf. Y Stereo was born simply to cash in on the most recent musical buzz. The members have chased trends before and I’m sure they’ll do it again.
The question posed by the album’s title–“What’s Real Anyway”–is a an easy query to answer; obviously not their well-funded and contrived band.