[HOT TRACK]Album Is a Pleasant Escape

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[HOT TRACK]Album Is a Pleasant Escape

A self-titled album generally signifies that the contents represents the quintessence of a band's music. Not in the case of Sugar Ray, a California-based rock band whose self-titled fourth album was recently released in Korea.

Mark McGrath, front man and vocalist, candidly explained, "We tried to name the album, but nothing worked, man." The band has been known to borrow titles in the past. It took its name from the boxer Sugar Ray Leonard (who in turn borrowed it from an earlier boxing legend, Sugar Ray Robinson), and also named its debut album, "Lemonade and Brownie," after a porno ad.

Sugar Ray combines hip-hop beats with metal riffs to create a popular and easy-to-listen-to sound. But it took some time for the band to establish its style. As it sampled various musical genres, the group was criticized for a lack of originality. Sugar Ray has been honing its style since its third release, "14:59," which had singles such as "Every Morning" and "Someday" that ranked high on the Billboard pop chart. And the band took criticism in stride. As McGrath eloquently explained, perhaps to excuse musical shortcomings, "We're meat-eating, beer-drinking pigs from America."

The band has certainly enjoyed popular appeal. Not every band gets multiple singles on the charts, and not every vocalist has earned the nickname "The Walking Rock'n'Roll Dictionary" by winning $64,000 on "Rock and Roll Jeopardy." The band's dream, to be "the best summer band from Orange County, California," seems to have come true.

Sugar Ray is composed of the guitarist Rodney Sheppard, the bassist Murphy Karges, the drummer Stan Frazier and DJ Homicide on the turntables, as well as McGrath. They have produced a catchy sound on the new release. McGrath said of the album, "I don't really know what our musical root is. But we tried to make a rock album that we can be proud of, from top to bottom. And we did it." The album thus far has been less successful with fans, compared with previous hits like "Someday." But the 11 tracks are fairly easy to listen to. The single, "When It's Over," has an exciting beat, but its melody is not as catchy as "Someday." But "Disasterpiece" and "Answer the Phone" are noteworthy.

"Sugar Ray" may fail to impress rock fanatics or discriminating music critics, but its songs about love are carefree and may offer a pleasant escape from hard core rock that insists on delivering a "deep" message.

by Chun Su-jin

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