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The Dream

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Album Review

When a rocker who is known for his association with one band forms a new band, some people inevitably assume that the new band will be similar. But that isn't necessarily the case. Take Open Hand founder Justin Isham, for example. The singer/guitarist is known for his association with the Los Angeles-based hardcore band I Awake, but Open Hand isn't hardcore. Even if one has a very liberal and far-reaching definition of that term, The Dream cannot honestly be described as a hardcore release. Rather, Open Hand favors alternative pop/rock with a post-grunge orientation; the L.A. combo draws on Live and Bush as well as the seminal Nirvana. Isham has cited Peter Gabriel as a major influence, and why not? There is no reason why Gabriel's writing couldn't have some type of impact on a group of modern alterna-rockers — it isn't as though every artist who came along in the '90s or 2000s is totally oblivious to older artists who were active in the '60s, '70s, or '80s. The Dream, Open Hand's first full-length album, offers a healthy balance of melody and aggression. The material is loud and forceful, but it's also intricate and highly melodic; the band's melodies can be hauntingly pretty, and those melodies usually work well with the CD's introspective lyrics. Ultimately, Open Hand has as much to do with craftsmanship as it does with volume, which is why tunes like "11th Street" and "Forever" wouldn't become unappealing if the band had to perform them in an acoustic setting. The Dream isn't groundbreaking, but overall, Isham and his fellow L.A. residents make a decent contribution to the post-grunge field.


Formed: 2000

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Grunge, post-grunge, stoner rock, emocore, and all the Black Sabbath, Soundgarden, and Nirvana worship that comes with those scenes are big influences on the sound of Open Hand, along with a surprising touch of prog, thanks in no small part to Justin Isham's longtime love of King Crimson, early Genesis, and Robert Fripp. After they both spent time in the Los Angeles-based hardcore band I Awake, vocalist/guitarist Isham and drummer Alex Rodriguez formed Open Hand in 2000 with guitarist Sean Woods...
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The Dream, Open Hand
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