Review: Accident Hash Podcast

5 March, 2005

As I promised in a previous post, I've been listening to a number of podcasts from the Association of Music Podcasting. AMP is an alliance of various music podcasters who are working together to make a library of "pod safe" songs bands have given them permission to play. It's a nice effort to both provide legal music for people looking to make their own music podcasts and a great outlet for independent bands trying to promote themselves however they can. Once I've gotten a feel for each podcast, I'll post reviews here. The first one follows.

Podcast: Accident Hash

Genre: various types of alternative rock-based pop


Host: C.C. Chapman

Most Recent Episode: Hash #8: Quick Like A Bunny

C.C. Chapman hails from Boston and focuses on "New England Independent music". Chapman has a frank and friendly tone and his descriptions of the music he plays are apt and honest. Describing music in words without recourse to technical terms or overly specific and obscure genre names is challenging and Chapman does a good job of it: S.G. Ladd's song "Smiles" does sound exactly like "Counting Crows meets John Mayer meets Third Eye Blind" and "coffee shop pop" tells you pretty much everything you need to know about John Hoskinson's "Uncharacteristic".

As you might guess from these descriptions, however, Accident Hash's greatest failing is the somewhat vanilla choice of music. One of the most potentially exciting things about music podcasting is that since the selection is limited to independent bands and since there are really no commercial forces of any kind, it could be an outlet for some truly experimental and exciting music that wouldn't find advocates in other formats. Granted, a lot of people like pop music as a style and I'm one of them, but there has to be music out there that is "pop" in sound without coming quite so close to specific styles (and at time, even specific songs) as the bands on Accident Hash have a tendency to do. The Benjamins' "Again," for example, is pretty close to the Pixies' "Gigantic," maybe even litigate-ably so. Buttonhead's "Easy: The Girlfriend Song" could be a 311 song, but without quite reaching the level of vocal quality and melodic sophistication that band so habitually achieves.

Not to be entirely negative here on the music, there are a couple of standout tracks, as well. Lonesome Jack, which Chapman describes as "Irish bar pop", play a kind of chaotic and exciting too-many-things-happening-at-once mix of ska, pop punk, and Irish music that has a giddy and infectious energy. Utenzil provides a refreshing change from the generally very slickly produced tracks on this podcast with a simple bit of "basement electronica" that has a catchy one line melody and goes on exactly not too long. Even John Hoskinson's "Uncharacteristic," which I mentioned above as being comfortably "coffee shop" reaches, in its best moments, for the heights of Nick Drake or, in a different direction, Dan Bern.

With the simplicity and clarity of his presentation, Chapman has the potential to make a really compelling show out of Accident Hash if only he'd be more willing to stray somewhat further from the stylistic territory of mainstream radio. I'll stay subscribed for a couple more episodes at least, but if the musical selection starts sounding a little less like what I can already get on my FM dial (even if, here, it is coming from local independent bands), then Accident Hash would have, in me, a new permanent listener.

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