Alt-rock for people who hate alt-rock

Remy Zero’s third album, The Golden Hum, has so far drawn comparrisons to U2 and Radiohead, and they’re barely flattering.

Me? I’m inclined to make the same declaration I made about Powderfinger’s Odyssey Number Five — this album is precisely the kind of guitar rock I usually hate.

But I don’t.

In a day and age when Creed can sell five million albums, big majestic alt-rock of the type Remy Zero performs seems, well, fresh.

At the very least, the band sets itself apart from other whiny voice, bleeding heart grunge-lite bands. (The Calling? Train?)

It’s hard to resist the soaring chorus of the Smallville theme, “Save Me”, especially with the set of pipes Cinjun Tate possesses. When he proclaims himself “bitter” on the track of the same title, Tate sounds like he’s being honest.

“Out/In” indulges in the same kind of string work that made Odyssey Number Five from the aforementioned Powderfinger feel genuine. “Smile” could have come across as more precious than it does, but even the most hardened cyncial listener (hand raised) eventually succumbs to the song’s earnest chorus.

“And though I never led my troops to war/And though I never learned what my life was for/And though I ever got was nothing,” Tate sings to a memorable melody. It’s spine-tingling, maaaaan.

When Remy Zero does indulge in predictable alt-rock idioms — in other words, soft songs — listeners may as well run to their old R.E.M. albums.

“Perfect Memory” is nice enough, and “I’m Not Afraid” is pretty. But they’re not anything that hasn’t already been done better on Document or Automatic for the People.

Nope. Remy Zero works best when they’re rocking out and being jangly, like they are on “Impossibility”, “Over the Rails & Hollywood High” and “Belong”.

Despite being crouched in the same rock ‘n’ roll trappings that makes modern music tiresome, The Golden Hum cuts through its generic molds to become a really listenable, well-written, skillfully performed album.

The Golden Hum isn’t going to change your life, but it does provide 41 minutes of entertainment.