Truly excruciating from beginning to end, Crooked Fingers's third full-length album falls embarrassingly short of endurable. Red Devil Dawn's fiercest inadequacy lies in the forlorn and sappy vocals orchestrated by former Archers of Loaf frontman, Eric Bachmann. His Bryan Adams-esque throaty grit inexpertly mixed over an unnaturally slow buzz sees the Indie group pump-faking sincerity yet delivering soporific drear. A throng of instrumentation occasionally outlasts the lead singer's alt-country croons, but most tracks leave the listener looking for something to dull the pain. "Angelina" carries an irritating and unceasing repetitive drum intonation that proves both distracting and uncomfortable. The unnecessary torpor on "Don't Say a Word" allows one to fully appreciate the preaching and morality of a formal alcoholic. Yet, as tiring as the melancholy bit becomes, Bachmann's best attempts at cheer feel out of place. "You Threw a Spark" and "Sweet Marie" feature horns rolled into an up-tempo merriment-inciting package. It just doesn't work. Red Devil Dawn's lone redeeming moment occurs when the disc ends. Bachmann's life story might serve as a viable platform for an aspiring artist; unfortunately he is too inept to capture his own experience in a vaguely interesting way. On the bright side, I never have to listen to this CD again. Sadly, my ears are still ringing.


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