Allday Afternoon – Open Ended

Allday Afternoon
Open Ended

A semi-famous saying among A&R men states how easy it is to determine what music is good but how hard it is to tell what’s bad. After all, music is basically fun. Watching videos when VH1 or MTV decides to actually play them offers a grim reminder of just how difficult it is to determine what bland rockers are going to set the charts aflame and which ones are going to sink under the weight of their overwhelming mediocrity. Why, for instance, is Creed famous? Why Three Doors Down? And why in the world did OKGO, the blandest of the bland, manage to score a major-label deal when any number of computer programs already on the market could spit out songs with more character and wit than the supremely unnecessary set featured on the band’s death-hyped debut? Because when Dave Matthews is king, every granola-flavored band of fresh-faced, non-threatening boys will become some kind of royalty.

Into this conversation step Alex Rhodes, Joel Turner, Nick Wagner, Keith Sigel, and K.J. Straub, the presumably nice boys who comprise University of North Carolina’s Allday Afternoon. After recording an EP, Everything After North St., they have reconvened to produce Open Ended, their first long-player. Like any number of similar bands, they’ve scrounged up some laudatory notices in area publications and become a decent draw. With the pop climate being the way it is, they might even net a recording contract and become the next big thing. A more likely scenario, however, is that their crown jewel will remain their victory at the 2001 UNC Dance Marathon “Battle of the Bands.” Open Ended is nice enough, but it resides in the gap between pleasant and good, a gap much, much larger than most purveyors of this sort of music will ever realize.

With a relentlessly sanguine attitude that grows more than a little tiring at length, Allday Afternoon play by the rules and make no waves. They put a tiny slice of syncopation into the mix to make themselves a bit funky (the drearily familiar anticipation of the third beat, most often), add some yeoman melodies, a little harmony singing, and finish it all off with optimistic lyrics along the lines of “They say the stars can be your guide after the sun goes down.” (Explanatory notes for this and other profound metaphors are cruelly missing from the band’s website.) They sing about life and love, i.e., they don’t have much to say.

To their credit, they are unpretentious and solid, giving their fans exactly what they want on a consistent basis, but fans of Allday Afternoon probably don’t probe the annals of rock history much beyond whatever happens to be on the radio at any given moment. If you are such a person, Allday Afternoon is your kind of band. Unfortunately for them, the number of bands for whom the same praise would apply easily number in the tens of thousands.