September 25, 2003

Test Spin: The Berlin Project

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The Berlin Project, a group which first gained national recognition in 2000 with their independent ska-punk release Culture Clash, recently released The Things We Say via Orange Peel.

For the most part, The Things We Say is an exceptionally average record. Frontman Jon Belan delivers his lyrics with an urgency that seems genuinely sincere. And the rest of the band has considerable talent on their respective instruments. Songs like “In Your Head” and “Running In Circles” are energetic numbers with razor-sharp guitar riffs courtesy of John Garrighan. But the album is destined for the bargain bin not because the band is doing anything wrong. It’s simply that they’ve failed to differentiate themselves from the hundreds of other acts doing the same thing.

One of the major things working against the band is the lackluster performance by producer/engineer Billy Rossi. Mr. Rossi allows the band’s considerable instrumental strength to be almost entirely overshadowed by the placement of Mr. Belan’s vocals in the final mix. The result is an amateurish sounding outing that’s often awkward and uneven. The group could also certainly do without the gratuitous synthesizer samples and tragically comic Sugar Ray-esque “turntable” scratches that are sprinkled throughout the record.

So while The Berlin Project has offered up a batch of perfectly listenable rock music, it’s nothing you haven’t heard before — and it’s certainly nothing you won’t hear again. And again. And again.

Archived article by Mathew Gewolb