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American Rockstar 

American Rockstar (self-released)

You've gotta wonder about a group that calls itself American Rockstar, an act of self-aggrandizement that's the equivalent of calling your first novel Bestseller. In keeping with its lofty self-image, the group sees itself as the panacea for a stagnant local scene, calling its album a "real in-your-face rock and roll album with a real in-your-face show to back it up" in the press materials that accompany it. American Rockstar -- the band includes guitarist Joe "J" Brannan, drummer Jeff Novak, singer Dallas "D" Riffle, bassist Dave "66" Tenney, and guitarist "K-Coler" Riffle -- falls well short of its intended goals.

Produced by Wes McGraw, American Rockstar repackages the alternative rock sound of the late '90s, and while bands such as Creed and Godsmack have been able to turn post-grunge rehash into multiplatinum sales, that doesn't mean that they've got artistic integrity working in their favor. American Rockstar shows little creative ingenuity here. "Superhero" sounds like a rip-off of Three Doors Down's comic-book savior ballad "Kryptonite," "So Clear" is a piss-poor attempt at emocore, and "Okay" comes off as a second-rate Stone Temple Pilots song. The power ballad "What It's Worth" features whiny vocals, heavy-handed lyrics, and predictably quiet-then-loud guitars. A funky bass riff can't save "Star Child" from being a bombastic anthem -- the refrain "I am everything you want me to be/I am a star, child!/I am everything you want me to be/I am a star, child!" smacks of the same solipsistic tendencies that inspired the band's moniker.

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