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Record Review - 1 November 28 2001

Let's face it: VH1's "Bands on the Run" was pretty stupid. But after nearly a dozen grueling episodes, the touring game/rock soap opera proved to be more than a tad addictive — thanks in part to Flickerstick, who came from behind in the series finale to steal the grand-prize major-label deal from icky Soulcracker. Show after show, the hard-partying quintet from Texas conquered countless hangovers in a way their geeked-out competitors couldn't: with a little bit of heart. And occasionally, a moment of passion glimmered in those hastily edited snippets of their late-night dive-bar performances.

Flickerstick's debut lacks the drama of its television persona, but a few of the melodies that weaved their way into the minds of VH1 viewers remain intact. "Beautiful" still gallops with the sonic speed it projected onscreen, and the band's big ballad, "Smile," sounds fantastic with a newly added touch of studio sparkle.

Yet beyond the first half of Astronauts (where most of the VH1 material appears), Flickerstick has a hard time recreating the atmospheric bombast that captured its rock 'n' roll dreams on television. At its best — in "Lift," "Got a Feeling" and even "Sorry ... Wrong Trajectory" — Flickerstick recalls the optimistic power-pop of The Drag, whose 1996 debut, Satellites Beaming Back at You, bears an eerie resemblance to Astronauts in both vision and tone. At its worst ("You're So Hollywood"), though, the band seems little more than a victim of the corporate television network that subsidized its current fame — and a helpless pawn in the music game it fought so wholeheartedly to win.

Flickerstick play Fri., Nov. 30, at the Roxy.??