Review: Bender

““Jehovah’s Hitlist””
(TVT Records)

Attitude rock bubbling with a diverse approach.  Melody always intact even when they hit the loud guitar chord chorus.  Singer Kent Boyce can command a range sounding like a bastard son of Eddie Vedder and Ian Astbury (from the Cult).  Good meaningful rock with a hard edge gets me thinking of a band called PAW that should’’ve been a lot bigger back in the early nineties.  Bender probably has a PAW album in their collection somewhere.  The bands shows its maturity by deftly commanding the quiet breakdowns that always surface back to the rock crash.  The guitar catch in the speedy dips of, “Isolate” also show Benders command over timing and the tricky stutter.  There is a lot of hard crunch in here, but it is most always balanced against a clean guitar strum and Boyce’’s warble and howl and will probably grow into a very dynamic singer with some time to develop along the path he’s already pursuing.  A lot of the meaningful sorrow is reminiscent of the Seattle sound (“Dig It” shows a taint of a Layne Staley howl against Sabbathy/TypeONegative guitar sludge), but Bender generally has a rustier edge to their sound and occasionally get pretty riff happy (which is to their advantage – it keeps the angst up).  Bender hold the perfect ground of knowing how to wrap an aggressive loud sound into a melody that is almost geared up and ready for hard rock radio.  Even a little too ready offering the R&B bounce and tired progression of “Fall on Your Head” which sticks out as a track skipper.  Much of this accessibility must be attributed to the personality of singer Boyce, but the music shows a lot of range and commitment to keeping it rock while understanding the power of the melodic ideal. “Lobster” is a heavy metal joke song that’s taken too seriously in its delivery, but shows Bender can smile once in a while.  And the closer, “Breathe Again” is almost alterna-fodder and I hope the future of Bender leaves this emo-whine in craggy voice that swells into high voice drama the hell alone.  Best when pulling no punches, but since Bender seems so determined to interject this safe Bush/Live type vibe to their otherwise rocking approach, the radio overkill should find Bender soon enough.