Big Windshield Little Mirror

Foam

Epic Records, 1998

http://www.foamband.com.au

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/11/1998

Imitation, it is said, is often the most sincere form of flattery. If this is the case, then Jason Teach and Foam must really be fans of Live. Their debut album Big Windshield Little Mirror contains some solid rock, but if you weren't reading the CD case, you'd swear you were listening to Live, pre-Throwing Copper.

But I stop far short of calling this quartet a rip-off of Ed Kowalczyk and crew, as some may be inclined to do upon first listen. While Foam sounds a lot like Live, down to the groove of the music, they do have their own unique voice as well - the problem being that they haven't been given a fair chance to develop it yet.

Rounded out by lead guitarist Scott Fisher, bassist Keith Palmer and drummer Joel Weedy (who, for some strange reason, isn't in the album's credits that I can find), Foam plow through eleven songs that do get me interested in the alternative rock scene again, though it takes a little time to build up initial interest.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

"Venus" says it all on Big Windshield Little Mirror; the groove these four musicians lay down is incredibly powerful without resorting to distortion up the yin-yang. It may not be an original sound, but it works on this number.

But the biggest bone of contention with this album is, frankly, it's confusing. I've now listened to it several times, and I'm torn between liking it and writing it off as a "first-effort". Songs like "Head Not Love," "I Can Hardly Wait" and "Memories" are almost constantly pleasing to the ears, while others like "Rollercoaster" and "Ladybug" almost smack a little of R.E.M.'s pretentiousness of late. Still others like "If" just fail to get off the ground.

Maybe the difficulty I have with deciding whether this album is good or not is the fact that Foam had to live up to some high expectations. They were signed to a recording contract without ever having played outside of their home state, and now are expected to deliver the Great White Hope for the alternative world. Sorry, kids, ain't gonna happen - that's far too much to ask of any band recording their first album together (much less a young group like this - Teach is only 24... boy, do I feel old).

Fact is, these guys are still very much learning the ropes, and haven't had the chance to fully develop their own style and sound yet. Oh, there are shards of evidence that this sound is coming together, such as on "Memories" and "Hands Of You," but all the pieces just aren't in place yet - this is nothing unusual. They need a little more time to slam through sets in clubs, as well as some time on the road to earn their stripes (and scars). Only then, I think, will Foam truly come into its own and have a unique style and sound of their own.

So, after all my ramblings, I guess the final verdict on Big Windshield Little Mirror is: You decide. It's a pleasant enough album to listen to, but like many first efforts I listen to, it smacks of what should be and could have been.

Rating: B-

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© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Epic Records, and is used for informational purposes only.