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Hearing your song on the radio for the first time is always a thrill. But L.A.'s Hoobastank was on tour when "Crawling In The Dark" hit the airwaves and didn't catch it on the radio until it had been out for awhile. Meanwhile, friends were constantly calling saying they'd heard it again and again. Had to be a little frustrating.

Hoobastank (whose butt stinks) formed in '95 with vocalist Doug Robb, guitarist Dan Estrin and bassist Marku Lappalainen. Needing a drummer, they recruited Chris Hesse and also landed sax player Jeremy Wasser. Soon the group was playing local gigs, sometimes sharing the bill with fellow L.A. locals, Incubus. The connection led to working with Incubus producer Jim Wirt, but that came later.

Hoobastank's maiden indie release, the EP, "They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To," with "Can I Buy You A Drink," came out in '98.

Having a reasonably successful EP usually leads to signing with a major label. Hoobastank went that route but it was far from a slam-dunk. They spent the next three years touring and producing demos while record execs kept asking for more songs. During this period Wasser had a falling out and left. Seemed the group didn't feel he added all that much and to top it off, it had become a nuisance to write horn arrangements.

Eventually, Island/Def Jam got off the fence and signed Hoobastank with their self-titled full-length debut appearing in '01. Two years later, following extensive touring, "The Reason" arrived. Then Lappalainen departed and Hoobastank continued as a trio. They released "Every Man For Himself" in '06.

Late the following year, Robb announced on the group's website that Hoobastank was working on a new album and that they had "set the bar very very high for this next CD." He went on to write "more ideas {are} going into this CD than ever before." But it was nearly a year later before word filtered out that the album was almost complete.

There was just one problem. What would they name it? "Sick Of Hanging On," "All About You," and "My Turn," the eventual lead single, were kicked around. "For(N)Ever" was finally selected. "My Turn" landed in late '08 with the album following a couple months later - after the New Year.

Hoobastank Discography

"For(N)Ever" is a surprisingly 'romantic' album with songs "All About You," "You're The One" and the pop ballad "You Need To Be Here." Of course, there's "I Don't Think I Love You," just keep things honest.

The full-throttle "My Turn" is a great song and album's best but the pop-oriented "Tears Of Yesterday" and the soaring "You're The One" are right there too.

"Every Man For Himself" opens with a drill Sargent barking away on "The Rules." It's a cliche from every good, and bad, military movie - destroying individualism, independant thought and action in a harsh, unsympathetic (do what your told) environment. Death looms large. Cliches become cliches because everyone uses them and they are convenient. But eventually, they're just boring. "Every Man For Himself,"leans on its share of cliches but to their credit Hoobastank does take some interesting turns along the way.

Robb's lyrics strike an optimistic tone. On "Moving Forward" there's "I make mistakes I've never made before but at least I'm moving forward." The defiant "Without A Fight" proclaims "we're not going down" while "Look Where We Are" takes a reflective tact, "we made it somehow, look where we are now." Of course, Robb powers through these lines for maximum effect, especially on the tense "First Of Me," where his voice is on the brink of faltering (that's deliberate).

Angst Rocker "Good Enough" scores thanks to Estrin's guitar work but Robb attempts to rhyme "complain" and "insane" on the melodic mid-tempo "If I Were You." Still, it's pretty good track. In what is becoming the norm, the album ends with a pair of ballads. "If Only" is OK but "More Than A Memory" with flute and acoustic guitar features a memorable melody as Robb departs from his usual vocal style.

Hoobastank's first release, "They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To" is like a lot of EPs -a warm-up for the real deal. The full-length "Hoobastank" is an entertaining romp where the group often sounds like its influences, which include Tool, Faith No More, and yes, Guns 'N' Roses.

The album contains harsh, edgy Rockers in "Pieces" and "Up And Gone." However, the rest of the album leans on rhythmic Metal with "Remember Me" and the acoustic/electric "Running Away." The highlight is the economical Rocker "Ready For You."

Leaning on Estrin's potent riff-spewing guitar "The Reason" refines and defines Hoobastank's twist on Metal. The set's best track, "Escape," blends Estrin's riffs with Hesse's vicious drums. Hesse also steps out on "Just One." That's is not to imply that Robb is left behind. He has his moments throughout but really excels on the frantic "Out Of Control" as he wails "followed your rules without question."

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