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CD Reviews: Alien Ant Farm
Alien Ant Farm: TruANT
July 2003
By: Linda Spielman
album cover of Alien Ant Farm's TruANT

It's been over two years since Alien Ant Farm's debut CD ANThology launched the band from obscurity into the public eye with the punk/pop remake of Michael Jackson's Smooth Criminal. The Southern California alternative band is back with their newly released sophomore effort entitled TruANT. The quirky quartet, known for their diverse musical influences and self-admitted goofiness, have developed into a stronger band both on the record and as individuals. After a fatal bus accident in Spain in 2002 which killed their driver and seriously injured many of the band members and crew, a much longer hiatus for the band was planned. However, when a routine band meeting was scheduled, frontman Dryden Mitchell (who sustained a broken neck in the accident) eagerly brought many newly penned songs to the meeting, which proved that you can keep a band down, but not down for long.

With new enthusiasm and healing physical wounds, the group enlisted the help of Robert and Dean DeLeo, best known as members of Stone Temple Pilots, as producers on the project. As the band strives to make their songs timeless in nature, a majority of the tracks on TruANT deal with betrayal of loved ones and the realization that, while life may get really bad every so often, it could be a lot worse. Working those occurrences and realizations into an ANT-friendly formula was helped along by the DeLeo brothers. Mitchell's seemingly melodic screaming on the tracks was helped and enhanced by Robert DeLeo's ritual of preparing Mitchell for the daily dose of cayenne pepper on the lower extremities of the singer's body. Yes, it is a bit bizarre, but the vocal quality and strength in Mitchell's performance on the CD is very evident.

TruANT is relatively strong in content. From a listening standpoint of someone who may not be familiar with the band, every other song seems to be where the band isat their most unique and ear-captivating. 1000 Days blends a ska-influence with heavy guitar rock. With Glow, the quirkiness of the melodies and the lyrics is very reminiscent of classic Jellyfish songs. The CD's first radio release These Days is what many Alien Ant Farm fans are familiar with from the first CD and it is undeniably recognizable when hearing it on the radio. There are no returns of Michael Jackson remakes on the CD, so I am guessing that the pets at Neverland Ranch won't be feasting on filet mignon this year funded by more Alien Ant Farm royalties. However, an especially nice surprise on TruANT is the Spanish-infused track Tia Lupe, which shows that the band not only has vast musical influences behind them, but that they know how to incorporate them into a great song that fans will embrace.

TruANT is a good listen from start to finish. On some CDs, either all the strong material is concentrated in the front or the back, which leaves the middle tracks in limbo. However, on TruANT, the strongest material is evenly spaced throughout the entire CD, making it easy for a first-time listener to be open to giving all of the tracks a fair shot when hearing it for the first time.