With roots stretching back to their time at Bradley University in Peoria, guitarists Carl Johnson and Jon Trainor, drummer Zach Dresser and bassist Matt Heston clearly are children of the alternative '90s: Their trumpeted list of musical heroes includes the Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam and Third Eye Blind. At times, they do indeed muster an echo of that era's grungy bombast. But on songs such as "Shine," "Near" and the impressive sing-along "This is a Hospital for Sinners," they add an endearing sort of Weezer-by-way-of-a-million-modern-emo-bands plaintiveness and vulnerability.
It's hard to say whether this is intentional or an accidental result of the fact that they can't really sing, but it sorta works: "What would Pearl Jam have sounded like if Jonathan Richman was the frontman instead of Eddie Vedder?" is an intriguing question that really had never occurred to me before.
The quartet just celebrated the arrival of its new self-titled EP with a record release party at Phyllis' Musical Inn last, but it will be playing again at Ronny's, 2101 N. California, on Aug. 21. Meanwhile, the new tunes are streaming online at www.myspace.com/ithinkeverythingisay.