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The Tony Lang Band 

The Tony Lang Band (Budda Scuba)

Singer-guitarist Tony Lang, formerly of the Simpletons, recorded his first solo album in multiple locations -- tracks were not only laid down in Redondo Beach, California, but also locally in Lakewood, Strongsville, and Cleveland. It was mixed at Chicago Recording Company and in Cleveland at Closer Look Studios and GTR Media. For the eponymous album, Lang put together a competent five-piece band and employed a skilled cast of studio musicians. In short, Lang has put much care into making the album sound right, and it shows. The 11 songs on the album sound as good as anything you'll hear on a major label release -- the guitar melodies are crisp, the rhythm section is tight, and the backing vocals are solid. The writing here is decent, too -- Lang crafts songs that have the same kind of adult alternative flair that has turned acts such as Matchbox 20, Third Eye Blind, and Tonic into platinum sellers.

That said, this kind of music simply lacks any sort of edge -- it's ready-made for the Dawson's Creek and Party of Five soundtracks, and bound to sit well with baby boomers still waiting for the next Fleetwood Mac reunion. As their titles suggest, songs such as "Envious," "From the Days We Had," and "My Soul Keeps Searching for You" are filled with the kind of pseudo-angst that typifies adult alternative fare. Ballads like "Take a Moment," "Closing In," and "Follow Me" also wallow in self-pity, as Lang sings in a whiny, Duncan Sheik-like voice. And it's anyone's guess how "Like You Do" made the final cut. It's the only song to play up Lang's jam-rock tendencies, and it has that disposable, quirky sound that has justifiably made the Spin Doctors extinct.

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