‘Grunge’ is not a cuss word

Forget Metallica — Jason Newstead seems to have.

The bassist’s new band shares pretty much nothing with his old band’s seminal sound.

Echobrain’s self-titled debut is, in fact, an unabashedly alternative rock album, chock full of listener-friendly melodies and post-grunge guitar work.

Singer/guitarist Dylan Donkin doesn’t seem to mind that Chris Cornell came before him. If anything, the trio has recorded the album Cornell should have three years ago.

“Keep Me Alive” has some fine Soundgarden-worthy moments, and it’s hard not to expect “Spoonfed” to sound like “Spoonman”. It doesn’t, by the way, but “Spoonfed” is still reminiscent of a Smashing Pumpkins outtake Billy Corgan stupidly ignored.

“Colder World”, on the other hand, calls to mind Fastball’s “The Way” — it’s probably that lo-fi-intro bursting into hi-fi thing at the start of the song.

Of course, tossing around the “G”-word nowadays is tantamount to saying around the word “disco” when New Wave was the shit. It’s a pejorative that really doesn’t apply in the case of Echobrain.

In between big guitar moments, the band makes room for lots of string-laced, psychedlic-tinged introspection. “We Are Ghosts” sounds what you might expect from its title, as does the conclusion to “Adrift”.

Shimmering guitars on “The Feeling Is Over” gives it a space-age feel, while “Suckerpunch” starts off unremarkably, then turns into a rocker’s epic.

Thankfully, Echobrain’s solid songwriting and the album’s non-flashy production saves it from any pitfalls of rock redundancy. Producer Brian Joseph Dobbs didn’t find any need to give Echobrain any sort of metallic sheen, and it works. These guys can show the Calling and Creed what the hell it’s all about.

Yes, folks — this is alternative rock the way you remember it. You know — when it didn’t suck?