Find A Door

Pete Droge & The Sinners

American Recordings, 1996

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


[Adapted from a review originally appearing in On The Town magazine on September 17, 1996]

Labels, we are periodically reminded, are inherently silly. How else to explain a band on the scale of U2 winning the 1994 Grammy for "Best Alternative Album"? Alternative to what—elevator music? And then an artist like Pete Droge comes along and is immediately pigeon-holed as falling into the authentic, industry-sanctioned, pre-programmed, radio-ready category of "Alternative Pop/Rock."

If Pete Droge is "alternative," then so are Bob Dylan, Van Morrison and Bruce Springsteen. The major difference between Droge and thirty years of jangly American heartland rock and roll purveyed by the likes of the Byrds, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Tom Petty and John Mellencamp is this: he's younger (I was going to add a flip comment here about the funky hats Droge seems partial to, but then I remembered Petty's Mad Hatter turn in the video to "Don't Come Around Here No More"). Is the industry trying to tell us that anyone under 30 who doesn't rap is "alternative"?

In any case, next generation tunesmith Droge got a nice career bump off of a valuable friendship with Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready (who introduced him to PJ—and later Springsteen—producer Brendan O'Brien) and the deliriously sardonic single off his first album, "If You Don't Love Me (I'll Kill Myself)." On his second time out, Find a Door furthered his promise with another collection of entirely self-composed, melodic, passionate rockers and ballads. The Rubber Soul soundalike "Brakeman," the wise, ringing "That Ain't Right" and the lumbering, laconic plea of "It Doesn't Have to be That Way" stand out in particular on this harder-rocking and very engaging sophomore effort.

Droge would subsequenrtly join forces with Matthew Sweet and Shawn Mullins for The Thorns, a 2003 successor to Crosby, Stills and Nash that issued just one sweetly melodic album. His output has tapered off in recent years, though since filming a cameo in 2000’s Almost Famous, he’s had a string of songs appear on soundtracks.

Wikipedia, in all its wisdom, persists in referring to Droge as an “alternative / folk rock musician” which just proves how meaningless such labels really are. The only thing Droge’s honest, traditionalist rock music is an "alternative" to is silence.

Rating: B

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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