Life Like


Universal Records, 1999

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


What's the worst thing that happens when a certain form of music becomes instantly the craze? You end up with oversaturation of the genre, and its eventual death.

It happened in the late '80s with heavy metal, and it is happening right now with the alternative rock scene. One such band who happened in on the then-flowering alternative scene was Dig, a band I'll freely admit I never particularly cared for. I have no doubts that they were sincere about the music they were creating, but they just sounded like another cookie-cutter band. (For example, what band doesn't sound like Matchbox 20 these days?)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Not even the almost complete re-building of the band (save for founding member/vocalist/guitarist Scott Hackwith) help matters much, although the band's third album Life Like deoes have a richer texture to it, much like The Beatles in their later days or The Verve today. The music isn't bad, but it's just not exciting.

From the opening moments of "Live In Sound," the listener is hit with wave after wave of rich audio levels courtesy of Hackwith, guitarist John Morris, bassist Jay Nicholas and drummer Gene Trautmann. But the problem isn't with the tonality of the music or the overall performances. Simply put, the songwriting doesn't allow any one performance to really stand out. It's easy to put this disc on, look away for what you think are a few minutes, then look back to discover over half the disc has played. (The disc itself is a short 39-plus minutes for 12 songs.) "Coming Down" flows almost too smoothly into "The Fuzz," and so on.

This isn't to say that all the songs blend into one gelatinous mess. Tracks like "All Over You," "I Don't Mind" and the title track do stand out after repeated listenings as being somewhat superior to the other offerings. (And at such a short running time, this is a disc that you can easily slap on for more than one listen.)

But Dig doesn't seem to have any one characteristic that sets itself from the Third Eye-Hootie-Matchbox scenario that seems to have gripped the alternative rock world in the last few years. They seem perfectly happy playing as the background music to the scene - and that is where I think they're making their biggest mistake. Dig does have more potential than I would have given them credit for prior to multiple listens of Life Like - but they don't act on it.

In a musical genre where bands act as lemmings, following their musical predecessors over the cliffs, Dig does nothing to break away from the free-fall that alternative rock seems to be in. That is the greatest disappointment with Life Like.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 1999 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 Universal Records, and is used for informational purposes only.