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Album Review

Although the '90s were the Age of Irony, nobody really wanted irony from their rock stars, especially if it was done as skillfully as Urge Overkill. In Nirvana's wake, American rock fans wanted to know that their bands really, earnestly meant it, and you never quite knew whether Urge Overkill was putting you on. Of course, their notoriously lush lifestyle didn't help, and eventually did the band in. In 1999, Nash Kato picked up the pieces and began working on his solo debut, Debutante, which after some delay finally appeared in the spring of 2000. Kato decided to pattern the record after his one near-hit, Saturation — so, apart from the self-pitying title track, there's none of the darkness of Exit the Dragon, nor is there any reference to Urge's implosion. It's all big, glossy hard rock, complete with a self-conscious sense of humor and an immersion in hipster pop culture. The powerful, hooky opener "Zooey Suicide" makes this seem like a good idea, but by the second song, the charm wears thin. Sure, Urge Overkill was always about style and attitude above substance, but they had the hooks, looks, and persona to pull it off more convincingly than a solo artist — especially one who surrounds himself with overpowering female backing vocalists. But after the first half draws to a close, things suddenly get interesting — the title track heralds a succession of several fully realized numbers that allow Kato to pull Debutante back from the brink. It's easy to give up halfway through the album, but the faithful will find much of the second half worth the wait. And they'll also find it fascinating that Kato co-wrote every one of the keepers with a certain Onassis, who is clearly Urge's Blackie. Does that mean Kato can't function on his own? Certainly not. But it's interesting that Debutante truly takes off only when Kato collaborates with an old bandmate. Maybe not enough to make him the star he wished he was in the '90s, but it definitely does take off, and it does so admirably.


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Singer/guitarist/songwriter Nash Kato first rose to prominence in the '90s with Chicago alternative rockers Urge Overkill, and upon their split late in the decade, launched a solo career. Urge Overkill originally formed in 1986 and on the strength of such Touch & Go releases as Jesus Urge Superstar, Americruiser, The Supersonic Storybook, and Stull, the group's penchant for churning out Cheap Trick-esque power pop (as well as being championed by such noted acts as Nirvana) got the group signed to...
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Debutante, Nash Kato
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