Reeducation 1. The act of educating again or anew so as to rehabilitate or adapt to new situations. Caleb Scates wears his early-'90s influences very prominently on his sleeves. A little 'Disintigration'-era Cure guitar here, a little 'Goo'-era Sonic Youth distortion there, some yummy 'Girlfriend'-era Matthew Sweet harmonies over there, and oh, yeah, a whole lot of Nirvana all over the whole thing. That's not a negative thing per se -- there's not a lot of music being made in that vein these days, so much of 'Reeducation' sounds fresher now than it would have in, say, 1995. One might think we're about due for this kind of stuff to come back around again. Scates' vocal similarities to Kurt Cobain, though, are too prominent to ignore. He's got that same pleasantly scratchy quality to his voice, though he never sounds quite as weighed down and world-weary as Kurt always did. But it does make the Nirvana comparison even more difficult to get past, and let's face it: who's going to live up to that kind of comparison? To be fair, Scates never resorts to out-and-out aping anyone. His songs are solid and - and here's the truly impressive part - Scates not only wrote all the songs, he played all the instruments himself. And when he breaks out of the mold, like on the quietly pretty "Every Time," it's a refreshing change of pace. Lyrically, Scates does a great job of setting himself apart. How you feel about his words will largely depend on your politics, as "Reeducation" is a fiercely political record; in short, if you're a Sarah Palin fan, this ain't for you (assuming you can find someone to explain the messages to you). But if you're an Air America listener, Scates is mixing up your flavor of Kool-Aid, with songs such as "Around the Corner" and the title track offering a fiery, intelligent take on the socio-economic issues of the day. In all, Scates proves himself an artist worth watching. As he grows and synthesizes those influences a little more completely, he should be a real force to be reckoned with. Julio Diaz 2008-12-21.
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