Saturday, November 15, 2008

First off: Unknown Component

My first review for the Montclarion.

This guy Keith Lynch makes music by himself, and yeah, he sucks. Apparently, he's an elitist douche, too. I guess this is karma right here.

Unknown Component
In Direct Communication **

Since the beginning of the MySpace age of music, there have been thousands of musicians who have utilized the Internet to their advantage. Artists who would have never dreamed of playing shows at big venues can now be discovered by a music executive hundreds of miles away from them. It is a positive thing for young musicians everywhere, but with every online success story, there are still unsigned artists who still slave away on MySpace pages and their personal blogs.

Keith Lynch is one of those artists. He is a singer-songwriter from Iowa City, and he releases his music under the name of Unknown Component. Lynch loves playing music; his output proves it, as he has released five albums in five years. No small feat, especially in this day and age. However, like many upcoming artists, he lacks the resources, as his latest album, In Direct Communication, shows.

The album fails to showcase Lynch's talent, as his tunes sound flat and generic. Lyrically, he brings nothing new to the table, as they are the same-old, post-Elliot-Smith lyrics that so many singer-songwriters have failed to master. Example: in "Somewhere a Light has Gone Out," he sings, "Someone is tearing me down/Somewhere a light has gone out/There's no relief from what I've seen/From what I've seen, there's no relief." It's the same mistake that befalls many young songwriters. They have the idea that depressing lyrics are the best because they showcase emotion and artistic ability. Lynch is like many young songwriters who have looked up to Morrissey, Kurt Cobain, Elliot Smith and the like and say, "If they can do it, I can do it."

The problem is, those three legends had a unique flavor to their lyrics. Lynch's lyrics have no flavor or style to them, and they just become forgettable. Note that the song from above may or may not be a reference to the Smiths' "There is a Light That Never Goes Out." Not a good sign if you're trying to break from the mold.

In Direct Communication's main problem is its lack of originality. The songs try to sound different, but they lack an identity. "It's a Fine Line" is one of those songs where it tries to mix different styles of rock music. For a while, it sounds like it's going to be something new and fresh, but it comes out old and stale.

Many of the songs here are like that. Part of the reason they are unoriginal is because of their production. Lynch records his own music, without a band or any other backup. When you first hear the drums on the album, the listener knows immediately that it is Lynch fiddling around on a drum machine. If Lynch had used a band, his songs would have most definitely sounded more lively. Without it, In Direct Communication is just an album full of ideas, and not music.

In Direct Communication highlights an artist with financial shortcomings, not musical abilities. Unfortunately, Lynch will probably spend another five years making generic alt-rock with a flat sound.

If he makes the same technical mistakes as with In Direct Communication in his next album, then Lynch and his Unknown Component project will probably become another MySpace failure, the new breed of musicians struggling in the harsh world of the music industry. One can only hope that this doesn't happen to him.

Lynch is someone who loves music, but all musicians need to learn from their mistakes. He has made five albums of songs like In Direct Communication. He needs to grow, and maybe he can become a MySpace success story. Good Luck, Mr. Lynch.

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