abuse of a burgeoning

Wink (Safe House)
Matthew "Wink" O'Bannon

By Mark Clark

Wink, the solo debut by veteran guitarist Matthew "Wink" O'Bannon (of Bodeco and Eleventh Dream Day fame) is a major disappointment.

O'Bannon's knack for crafting ear-catching riffs and ingenious solos is in surprisingly small evidence here. That's a major problem since Wink also exposes O'Bannon's considerable limitations as a vocalist and songwriter.

Most of the album's best work is confined to short, throwaway cuts like "Tigeresque," a Peter Gunn-ish instrumental, and the twangy "Rockabilly Crap Part One," neither of which are more than a minute long.

"Cry Baby," a country-tinged ballad, is perhaps the best of the album's full-length cuts. "M-Beat," another instrumental, is also nice. It's got a retro, early '60s feel, the kid of thing Chris Isaak would record if he could lighten up.

Alas, there's little else worth noting to be found here. As Wink progresses, all its cuts (except for some gag songs and some more short fillers) take on a numbing sameness. And not only do they sound like each other, they sound like any song by any other "alternative" band you may have been bored by in the past few years.

Could this really be the same guy who, along with Rick Rizzo, scorched his way through El Moodio, the latest Eleventh Dream Day album? Maybe O'Bannon needs the discipline of a band setting to flourish.

In the end, Wink sounds less like the solo debut of an up-and-coming artist than like a vanity project from a talented guy with a few well-connected friends.