Xie Tianxiao and Cold Blooded Animal S/T (Scream Records) Kurt Cobain may have inspired a generation of Chinese youths to pick up guitars and wail, but it wasn't until five years after he killed himself that Cold Blooded Animal brought grunge to the mainland. Singer/guitarist Xie Tianxiao (XTX) is the only original Animal left, and, thus, he gets top billing. You might have hoped for a strong eponymous song, but it falls flat. Its opening riff, ripe for exploding into a distorted cacophony, is a promising start, but when the guzheng kicks in, the edge is taken off of the song's climax, which could have rescued XTX's strained singing. Drawing Wear also suffers at the hands of the guzheng. Sunflower's chorus is sloppy and sounds as if they invited friends over to wail along with them. Ditto for Song of the String, on which hand drumming is about the last thing you'd expect to find (after an acoustic-pop-driven tune on a grunge band's album), although this is the one track that XTX manages to sing his way through. Things start to improve on the reggae-esque Rendezvous, although tinny guitars plague the track. XTX isn't blessed with a golden throat, but he does have a silver scream, which is the defining element of the band's sound. Thus, the album is saved by songs on which he wails rather than attempts to croon: Whereabouts Unknown, Ashima and, the band's best song to date, Who Was It that Brought Me Here? Overall, the band have mellowed and smoothed their sound - which, for fans of their high-intensity grunge, is bad news.