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Liquid 

Liquid (self-released)

Liquid -- singer-guitarist Joey DePasquale, drummer Anthony Pines, bassist Keny Clark, and guitarist G. David Hido -- formed three years ago and has opened for acts such as Buckcherry, Tom Petty, and Oleander. After winning the "Guitar Center/Beyond Records Musicians Choice Contest" in 1998, the group's song "Migraine" was included on a nationally distributed compilation, which also included tracks by Sponge and Mötley Crüe. Recorded at Spider Studios in Strongsville and produced by Ben Schigel, DePasquale, and Hido, the band's self-titled debut displays great range -- the group can play both heavy alternative rock and, when it emphasizes quieter melodies, pop-oriented adult alternative rock.

While its sound is distinctly contemporary, Liquid doesn't uncover any new ground on Liquid. "I Hate You," a track that features a midsong guitar solo, sounds like a cross between Creed and Collective Soul, and the raw guitars that stop and go in "High" follow the pattern of Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit." "Migraine" features hushed vocals and escalating guitars -- it's a well-written track that could pass for something by the Foo Fighters. As a lyricist, however, DePasquale has his shortcomings. He writes obsessively about self-doubt with forced melodrama -- he sings "On the inside I'm dying out loud" in "Superstar" and "I don't wanna be something/I don't wanna be anyone I just can't be" in "Germ." But despite possessing a good voice -- with the exception of "I Hate You," in which he lets out a curdling scream -- he doesn't make you think that he's genuinely putting his heart on the line. Most of the time, he just sounds like he's trying to ape any number of semisensitive alt-rock frontmen (think Dave Grohl or Scott Stapp).

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