Have you ever met someone who had a great personality but never showed it to anyone because they had such a bad attitude? Mower is a bit like that. The San Diego natives craft an intriguing second album, but the aggressive-yet-depressed veneer of the lyrics, so typical of new rock and metal nowadays, make the record much harder to get into than is necessary. Still, it's hard to imagine the band not having a hit at modern rock radio with one of these punked up anthems. Their 2006 release, Not For You, gives them fifteen chances to do that, so the odds are in their favor, just don't expect to remember said hit by this time next year.
Mower combines elements of straightforward modern rock, straight off of your local radio station, whichever one has an "X" in the call letters, and douses those elements pretty liberally with blast beats, punk, and a dual vocalist attack that would be original if half a dozen other bands hadn't done it five years ago. The two vocalists do mix together pretty well, neither of them attempt any rapping-so that's a blessing, but they both remind one of the two microphone jockeys from Linkin Park with the obviously bigger, more gravelly voiced guy and the hyperactive higher pitched squealer. Big chunky riffs inform much of the record, and while they're not exactly prime rib, they're just enough to sink your teeth into. Far from a one trick cow, however, Mower saves some tricks for the encore. "LA Riot", although ridiculously titled, has a pretty solid break down in the middle. That being said, the band isn't above pulling out the genre standards, such as the pre-song angry whisper. Bands have got to begin to realize how corny those little asides are beginning to sound.
To give credit where credit is due, the band began to gain some ground by the end of Not For You. By the third or fourth song, their persistence starts to pay off and by the end of the record, you begin to realize that the band has co-opted some of the frenetic energy and diverse sonic textures that have made System of a Down, for whom they have opened, one of the biggest heavy bands on the planet. Mower has the potential for mass appeal as well. They have enough punk chops to win over the Warped Tour set (in fact they've already played the festival) but they're metallic enough to get Disturbed fans out to the record stores. Songs like "Undone" and "Look Away" impress with their hooky choruses and solid arrangements, and the band must not take itself all that overly seriously after hearing the cover of "California Dreaming" that closes the record. Makes you laugh, you know? Hopefully that's what they were going for.
Mower might conquer rock radio someday. It won't be with Not For You but that record is good enough that they will be able to continue making more. The band just needs to focus more on writing fifteen (or ten) great songs instead of three or four, and on getting away from the "What are you lookin' at! I'll kick your ass!" lyrics and posturing. In other words, pull the weeds instead of just mowing everything down together.