Bare Jr.

Something witty this way comes ... then stops short with a screeching halt. The second release from these rock-country kidders, Brainwasher opens with a prophetic little tune that sounds like something off the English Patient soundtrack and aptly named "Overture: Love Theme from Brainwasher." Obviously not afraid to make fun of themselves (and unapologetic about it), the Nashville natives throw in a bit of country twang for an offbeat hometown flavor. Their rock is formulaic at best, however, as though forced to be a rock band by their record label. Bare Jr. would do better to stick to what they do best: doing country with a sense of humor. That way they might challenge the stagnant Nashville scene while crossing over into mainstream. At this point they're trying to cross over too soon.

The gems "If You Choose Me" and "Why Do I Need a Job?" benefit from a Ween-ish touch of absurdity. Lyrics like "I'll quit cussin' and lose ten pounds/I'll swear you're skinny when you get round" are music to a girl's ear; they're definitely songs to put on a mix for the girlfriend who just broke up with you because you suck -- something I'm sure lead singer Bobby Bare, Jr,. knows a lot about judging from his heartbreak and beer-break themes. Another giggle comes from their mischievous "guy" track, "You Never Knew (I Lied)," which tells the story of a guy's Jerry Springer-esque escapades and the guilt that ensues when his girlfriend finds he was untrue, just like she knew. A loving sentiment it is not, but so what? What the album lacks in musical genius it makes up for by being different. But all good things must come to an end, and by the middle of the disc, things get lazy. The last four songs make for one long throwaway with forgettable lyrics. Keep Bare Jr.'s Brainwasher around for a while, let it amuse you, and then, when you really need those five bucks, go ahead and trade it in.

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Ivonne Azurdia