There’s no denying that the emo and pop-punk scenes have become inundated with bands trying to be the next big thing. While it’s good to see such enthusiasm for music, it’s frustrating that most of the new bands sound the same.

The recent explosion of the so-called “alternative” scene resembles the boy band craze of the late ’90s, where it seemed like almost every day a new group of whiny pretty boys appeared with an album full of unoriginal songs.

The main differences today are that these bands write their own songs and focus on playing instruments instead of doing choreographed dance moves. However, as the cinematic masterpiece “2-gether” showed us, there was a cookie cutter image of the boy bands. Just throw in a few piercings, some black hair dye and a broken heart and you have today’s typical alternative band complete with their typical sound.

Now, I’m not saying this scene is a total wasteland – there are tons of great bands out there, but recently it’s been hard to find a band that has a unique sound.

This both is and isn’t the case with Las Vegas’ Panic! At the Disco. My biggest complaint with their first album, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out,” is that they could easily be mistaken for Fall Out Boy. Not only do they share a label, but it seems like they may share a vocalist as well. The similarities between the Panic!’s Brendon Urie and FOB’s Patrick Stumph only make it easier to draw comparisons between the two bands as a whole.

The long song titles used by both bands don’t help in distinguishing the two. However, “Fever” is filled with fun pop songs – a welcome change from the depressing and angry music that usually flows through my headphones. The music is pure pop, fusing synthesizers, accordions and a drum machine with the standard guitar and bass to put a new spin on an old sound.

Another quality that separates Panic! from other bands is their lyrics. Yes, pessimistic lyrics are present in some of their songs, but the majority of the songs are commentary on society and the music scene that this young band is trying to enter. “London Beckoned Songs About Money Written By Machines,” is just one example of the band’s struggle with compromising artistic integrity in exchange for commercial success.

So if you’re looking for a band that is completely innovative, “A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out” may not be the first album on your shopping list. But if you like music with catchy hooks and clever lyrics, Panic! At the Disco is a band you must check out.

Swain can be reached at

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