In the winter of 1991-1992, the Seattle rock-music scene suddenly became the darling of the global music industry. It was an overnight success, 15 years in the making, with bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains leading the way for a new form of alternative rock. But this new grunge sound all but faded away with the onslaught of bubblegum pop and rap metal that emerged in the late 90s.

Paul Wong
The Three Cousins (Megan Besley, Alissa Mercurio and Kimberley Dolanski) get pornographic in “La Perichole.”<br><br>Courtesy of University Productions

With their debut album No Name Face, California-based rockers Lifehouse bring a refreshing sound to the gooey cohesiveness of Britney Spears and the hip rock of Limp Bizkit that dominates the airwaves today. The album essentially is a refined form of grunge-era rock. Mixed by Brendan O”Brien (U2, Pearl Jam, Our Lady Peace), the Rodney Jerkins of rock music, No Name Face is much smoother and melodic, but maintains the alternative feel of the aforementioned rock pioneers. Traces of Eddie Vedder are evident throughout the record on singer/songwriter/guitarist Jason Wade”s haunting and resonant, yet comprehensible voice.

Lifehouse was formed nearly five years ago after frontman Wade decided to give up martial arts to focus on music. He studied the martial art Du Ye Chi Tao for five years before moving on to concentrate on the band, winning numerous competitions and trophies. The now 20-year-old Wade was still in high school when the band first recorded a demo of “Trying,” one of the cuts on No Name Face.

Ever since its released in October of 2000, No Name Face has been steadily conquering radio and garnering the band national spotlight. After the ultra-catchy power pop of the first single “Hanging By A Moment” took the song to #1 on Billboard”s Modern Rock Tracks, the song has crossed over and is beginning to make a dent in the pop charts as well.

While “Hanging By A Moment” is the clear standout on the record, there are many other notable selections, including the harder-edged “Sick Cycle Carousel,” about Wade”s relationship with his girlfriend. Lifehouse”s emotive style of blending simple, acoustic melodies with powerful electric guitars, is quite effective. This formula, which may be unoriginal at times, lends an overall sentimental mood, particularly in the sweeping finale “Everything.”

Driven by the success of “Hanging By A Moment,” Lifehouse is currently out promoting their album on a cross country stadium tour with Matchbox Twenty and Everclear. If they play their cards right, this exposure, on top of an ultimately satisfying debut in No Name Face, could propel the band into the heavens of the alternative rock theater.

Grade: B

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