REMY ZERO The Golden Hum (Elektra)

"The Golden Hum" is the third album by LA-based quintet Remy Zero, and their major label debut. They play a competent, cleanly-produced brand of modern rock: think the pretty melodies of Travis (who they recently supported, along with Ryan Adams and Starsailor, at a sold-out NME-promoted London Astoria gig), infected with the mandolin-strung proto-"Automatic For The People" Americana of prime American Music Club, topped off with enough squealing, distorted guitar and U2-style stadium-sized yearning to guarantee heavy MTV rotation. Which is all sweet and dandy, but almost totally bereft of any element of surprise, "The Golden Hum" only really straying outside its self-imposed template with the few seconds of grumbling low-frequency oscillations that open proceedings. Remy Zero's songwriting is equally solid and unspectacular, shot through with an air of whittled craftsmanship best sampled on the run of tracks, from "Perfect Memory" to "Over The Rails & Hollywood High", that form the album's core. "Impossibility" is probably their finest moment, managing to be both raucous and wistful at the same time. But rack "The Golden Hum" up against the cream of recent underground Americana, which for me means Jolene's magnificent, cruelly ignored album "The Pretty Dive", and Remy Zero's offering comes across as very worthy but ultimately rather dull.

REMY ZERO Save Me (Elektra)

The first single to be extracted from Remy Zero's third long player "The Golden Hum", and used as the theme to the Channel 4 import "Smallville", "Save Me" is four minutes of dense, MTV-friendly modern rock. Simultaneously pleading like an amateur Bono and aspiring to the same kind of underground/overground credibility R.E.M. deservedly still possess by the truckload, Remy Zero's music fails on both counts. It's pleasant, unthreatening rock music for people who like their rock music pleasant and unthreatening, tame enough for TV, hookline and sinker.