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  Regulate the Chemicals
Artist: Twothirtyeight
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
Length: 11 tracks

There is a fine line between the brilliant and the bizarre. Sometimes an album comes along that critics and fans alike laud for its clever artistry and experimental, inspired flourishes of musical madness. The Beatles are considered by most to be one of the all-time greats of rock n' roll, largely due to the fact that the Beatles were never afraid to use strange sound effects in a song, or play their guitars backwards, or write a song about "eggmen" and walruses.

Of course, in addition to their creative tinkerings and psychedelic strangeness, the Beatles also had powerful melodies and sing-along choruses to back them up. Their sense of adventure never overpowered their sense of fun. I'm not so sure, though, about Tooth and Nail Records' emo band twothirtyeight, though. I admire their boldness when it comes to bucking trends, but I can't help but wonder just how many people will actually like these guys.

Twothirtyeight's debut LP on Tooth and Nail is Regulate the Chemicals, a very non-commercial, artistic foray into the world of emo/punk/garage rock. Fans of The Juliana Theory's first album will probably love this one. Regulate the Chemicals has the same moody vocal style and garage band guitar licks and production values. Unfortunately, twothirtyeight isn't quite as catchy, and they're not nearly as diverse, as The Juliana Theory.

Instrumentally, this record is fairly simple. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as emo is not expected to be very intricate, but be warned that you won't find the musical complexities of Dave Matthews Band or Radiohead here. One of the biggest problems with the album is the pacing--most of the songs tend to plod along at a slow-mid tempo pace. For a good idea of what this band sounds like, imagine a cross between Jimmy Eat World and Coldplay. Or better yet, just think of Pedro the Lion.

As a reviewer, part of me wants to give Regulate the Chemicals a high score, but another part of me wants to totally bash it. On the one hand, I really do admire the way that twothirtyeight crafted an emotional collection of songs that tend to go against the grain of current musical trends (though they do take advantage of the recent popularity of such emo bands as Jimmy Eat World and Pedro the Lion). This album is clearly the kind of music that twothirtyeight really wanted to make--they obviously didn't make such a moody piece of music because the chances of Regulate the Chemicals being a big money-maker are pretty slim.

That brings me to my next point. As a reviewer, part of my job is to help my readers make informed decisions about notable new CDs. Since the price of one new album is usually somewhere around the $17 mark, most people want to have a fairly good idea of whether or not they are going to like a CD before they buy it. And, in all honesty, I don't see many people liking twothirtyeight very much. This record is gloomy, slow-paced, and the lyrics are relatively weird (any album with a song about anti-depressants is just plain peculiar in my book). I admire twothirtyeight for putting their artistry ahead of their sales, and so I proudly recommend Regulate the Chemicals to lovers of moody emo/punk bands like Pedro the Lion and The Juliana Theory. To the rest of you, however, I strongly suggest listening to this one before you buy.

Josh Hurst 5/20/2002

TwoThirtyEight has succeeded the last few years in creating a niche for themselves in the underground indie rock market. Their release Regulate the Chemicals on Takehold Records in 2000 defined the band and brought them to a new level. It wasn't long before Tooth & Nail Records noticed and had the band sign a contract. Now in 2002, TwoThirtyEight has re-released Regulate the Chemicals, with two new songs and nine previous songs that have by now become favorites among emo/indie rock lovers.

The music of TwoThirtyEight does a good job of staying original. There are bands who are in the same genre as TwoThirtyEight, but none that sound the same. The music can at times get fast and distorted, but generally plods along at a normal pace with involving guitar lines that keep the listener intrigued enough to not skip ahead to the next track.

The lyrics have a discernable Christian influence, but not any kind of outright gospel message. The lyrics are honest, as the band uses their lives and conversations after their concerts as their ministry. There are certainly some good points made in TwoThirtyEight's songs, however. Take, for instance, "The Bastard Son and the Spoiled One": "I'm not the grateful bastard son, I'm the rich and spoiled one." Lyrics like this have a way of getting straight to point without being cliche.

The two new songs on the album are "The Sticks Are Woven in the Spokes" and "Les Wirth." "The Sticks" is a more upbeat song, speaking of dealing with problems. I liked the song the instant I heard it. "Les Wirth" takes more time to get used to, but is probably the better tune. It's slower but much more understated and real than even indie rock listeners are used to.

It would be hard for me to not recommend Regulate the Chemicals, an album that succeeds musically and lyrically and ties everything together in a way that should make any indie rock listener happy.

Trae Cadenhead 8/2/2002



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