Is it a joke if nobody laughs? Edgy humor should be left to the professionals - stand-up comics and morning radio personalities. Amateurs are painfully out of their league. Politicians, actors and even musicians should avoid anything beyond the standard mother-in-law jokes. And even then, they should be extremely careful.
In the run-up to the '06 congressional elections former presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, attempted a sarcastic joke at President George W. Bush's expense. But he mangled the punchline so bad that it came off sounding like a criticism of American troops fighting in Iraq. The fall out literally tanked Kerry's political aspirations beyond his home state.
A few week later, Michael Richards, best known as Kramer from the classic TV sitcom, Seinfeld, was taking a shot at stand-up in L.A. when he was mercilessly heckled by a couple patrons. Angered, Richards launched into a racist rant. By the time the dust had settled, Richards had apologized to just about every man, woman and child in North America. He even met with the people who were heckling him. Any hopes of filling his evenings doing stand-up were effectively dashed. Both Kerry and Richards might have been spared their career altering gaffes had they known about Stereo Fuse.
Guitarist Jeff Quay and drummer Chad Jenkins were in a hot Dallas band with an unfortunate name, Sandwich. They were playing a showcase at the '00 Atlantis Music Conference in Atlanta. In between songs, the group's singer told a joke so offensive that they were ordered off the stage. So much for impressing some major label rep.
Figuring the "joke" would follow them no matter where they went, Quay and Jenkins pulled the plug on Sandwich and took up with singer/guitarist Colin Hill, calling themselves Lee Harvey Osmond - a moniker distilled from two of the more infamous names from the '60s (JFK's alleged assassin and the Osmond Brothers - a disturbing juxtaposition). Of course, with a name like that they were, not very tastefully, flouting their Dallas connection. Here was a band seriously challenged at coming up with the decent name.
A cover of Material Issue's "Everything" earned the group local airplay. As other stations, beyond Big D, played the song, the group's tour itinerary expanded. Finally, they became Stereo Fuse (the best name yet). Their full-length self-titled debut on Wind-Up Records hit in '02. '06 found the group on Universal Records, a major label, for "All That Remains."
2002: Stereo Fuse
2006: All That Remains
"The car is new and full of gas
No cops around, so let's drive fast."
From "The Best Ride."
You gotta love a group that sings about the hedonistic pleasures of cruising - especially in the face of gas prices and environmentalist disdain. Stereo Fuse is upbeat and melodic on "All That Remains" while still being a guitar driven band. "Hey Girl," "Pieces" and "Leave Me Alone" show the group at full-throttle, where they excel. Hill's vocals are taunt yet expressive and that's particularly evident on "That's Not Right." Stereo Fuse's pop leanings are shown to good advantage on "Beautiful," "I'm In Love" and of course, "The Best Ride." The power ballad "Everything" is just a potent here as it was on their previous release.
Stereo Fuse's debut opens with "Everything" and ends with an acoustic version of the song. Both takes are effective and give the song an alternate feeling. Elsewhere, Stereo Fuse travel the usual post-Grunge angst laden trail. Songs deal with suicide and drug overdose. "Too high to come down, Allison is six feet underground," from the jangling "Allison, is typical. But the group hits the accelerator on "Live Like A God" and "Seed."
Though they have an impressive debut, Stereo Fuse does better on "All That Remains" when they loosen up and lighten up.