Hinder: Rocking Like It's 1989

On their second album, singer Austin Winkler and the rest of the band evoke harder-rocking predecessors.
On their second album, singer Austin Winkler and the rest of the band evoke harder-rocking predecessors. (By Jason Decrow -- Associated Press)
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By Allison Stewart
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The Oklahoma hard-rock quintet Hinder has been called one of the leading purveyors of "flyover rock," a red-state-favoring genre geared toward fans of classic rock and benign, early-'00s post-grunge. If you're wondering if you might be such a person, here's a simple test: Does the success of Daughtry bewilder you? If the answer is yes, go back to your Cat Power records, elitist blue-state person. Hinder is not intended for you.

Hinder's sophomore effort, "Take It to the Limit," the follow-up to its multi-platinum 2005 full-length debut, "Extreme Behavior," is ably played, so catchy it's almost wrong and utterly lacking even the pretense of authenticity. It's a focus-grouped assemblage of rock-and-roll chestnuts: Combine the big, melodic hooks of vintage Creed (minus Scott Stapp's messiah complex), the watered-down glam metal of Faster Pussycat (except a little less icky, and a lot less glammy), and the rumbly, almost gladiatorial choruses of "Dressed to Kill"-era Kiss, and you might just come up with something like "Take It to the Limit," a mystifyingly charming throwback to the '70s heyday of corporate rock. Despite its best, frequently transparent efforts, Hinder isn't an American version of Nickelback, it's Foreigner '08 -- if the members of Foreigner were strip-club habitues who listened to a lot of Aerosmith records and hadn't married well.

Hinder's energetic, oft-stated love of Jameson and porn seems to be part of an effort to tap into nostalgia for the Vivid Video-lionizing, pop-centered hard-rock bands of the '80s and '90s, for the era stretching from "Cherry Pie" to Blink-182. But despite the pictures of nude girls tucked into the disc's inner sleeve (if Bob Dylan had only thought of that, who knows how many copies of "Tell Tale Signs" he might have sold?), there's something tame about Hinder. Unlike the band's idols in Motley Crue, whose guitarist Mick Mars shows up here for a symbolic torch passing, these guys want to appear both sleazy and sensitive, and wind up seeming doubly insincere in the bargain.

"Take It to the Limit" divides itself between harmless, sound-alike party anthems ("Just tell me how I was in the morning," lead singer Austin Winkler tells his one-night stand in "Up All Night") and a surprising number of ballads. These swollen, cigarette-lighters-aloft slow-ish songs ("Without You," close kin to 3 Doors Down's "When I'm Gone," being the finest example) give the band the opportunity to mime sadness and sober reflection. They're uniformly unhappy songs that Winkler sounds uniformly unhappy singing.

He's much more comfortable with the PG-13 rave-up tracks, with their hinted-at indecencies -- at one point, he promises to "[do] things your dad won't like." It's hard to imagine what a girl might do with a member of Hinder that wouldn't fall into this category, but the band's lack of nerve, its essential harmlessness, is enough to make one nostalgic for its authentically dirty '80s ancestors.

DOWNLOAD THESE:"Without You," "Take It to the Limit," "Up All Night"

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