Friday, November 9, 2007

Cartel - Cartel

Band: Cartel
Album: Cartel
Release Date: August 21, 2007
Label: Epic

Three Word Review: Homogeneous, Cliché, Commercialized

Favorite Track: “Wasted” Feat. Wyclef Jean (Remix)
Why? “Wasted” by itself is pretty good song, but this crossover remix with Wyclef makes it. Some of the kick from the song suffers from the new beat, but the beat is good and the raggae-esque sound is great.

Least Favorite Track: “The Fortunate”
Why? I actually do kind of like this song, but to me at times it seems like a blatant lift of “Living on a Prayer” from Bon Jovi. It’s mainly just the intro and chorus, but come on.

My Thoughts:
First of all, if you didn’t know, this album was recorded over a period of 20 days for an MTV special “Band in a Bubble.” While it was clearly thrown together it doesn’t really have that vibe. I didn’t watch any of the coverage of this experiment, but from what I can tell it was fairly successful. “Cartel” is proof that a decent sounding album can be written fairly quickly. The only problem is that the album lacks depth and is riddled with lots of shallow and uninventive lines. I don’t listen to the radio or watch MTV much, but I would imagine the stunt provided the band with some serious publicity.

The sound doesn’t deviate much from the sound of “Chroma,” but it is a good release. However, the album is largely homogenous. The songs do differ, but largely share a similar sound, but it’s the patented Cartel sound, and I’m complaining. This time around they seem to be packing a bit more of a kick, and it’s well received. “Cartel” is a very solid sounding release although there isn’t much different from “Chroma.” If you’re a fan of theirs already this is more you’ll probably end up liking. My main problem is that it is incredibly superficial. However, if you just don’t concentrate too too hard on the lyrics you will probably enjoy this. There is plenty of energy here and it makes for a good listening experience.

Why You Might Not Like It:
While this album has lots of potential to bring new sheep into the fold (probably the 11-14 year-old girl demographic), it does nothing to win over those who have already sided against Cartel. Like I said, the sound is largely unchanged from their previous efforts. So, if you never liked them, this isn’t for you. If you’re looking for a poignant musical experience this isn’t for you either. They’re pop rock and now, largely commercialized, so if that’s not your bag, don’t bother.

Final Say:
A worthwhile listen for fans new and old. I can’t say it enough, if you liked their older stuff you’ll probably like this. However, if you’re getting tired of their sound, you might want to steer clear. The premise on which this album was created is very interesting, albeit flat-out product promotion, and I’m sure MTV will be milking the idea far into the future. So, you might also want to keep an eye out to see if your favorite band will sellout, enter the bubble, and create an album in 20 days sometime in the future. I like the idea, just not the commercialization. I’d like to see some honest bands do this, maybe on their own. It’s quite common for bands to hunker down and lock themselves in a house to record, so why not broadcast it? Maybe via the internet à la ‘lifecasting’ style?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Retroactive Review 5: Cartel

I was a pretty big fan of “The Ransom EP” (mostly for “Luckie St.”) and somewhat of a fan of “Chroma” (mostly for “Honestly”), but it was news to me that Cartel released a new album over the summer. So, for the latest installment of my series of Retroactive Reviews you can expect the lowdown on their self-titled which was released after a 20 day promotional kick fueled by Dr. Pepper. Check back tomorrow for the review!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Mae - Singularity

Band: Mae
Album: Singularity
Release Date: August 14, 2007
Label: Capitol

Three Word Review: Guitars, Pretty, Electric

Favorite Track: “Waiting”
Why? The opening chords and synth lines are catchy and fun. As I listen the synth line routinely gives me a nostalgic feeling of a song that I think I might really like. I can’t think of what it is, but the line makes me like this song too. (I don’t know what song it is, but it might include some line like “... here... noise(s) in my ear.” Maybe? If you know what it is and feel like telling me I’d appreciate it!)

Least Favorite Track: “Crazy 8s”
Why? No particular reason really. Like most of the songs on this album, I’m largely indifferent to it. This is really a horrible reason to give if I want you to take me seriously, but I don’t like its name or the rhyme scheme of the lyrics. Unfortunately for the track, “Crazy 8s” is merely a representative figurehead for my overall ennui with this release.

My Thoughts:
This release isn’t really up my ally, although its got its good points. My main gripe is that Mae seems to be sacrificing their piano rock for synthesized rock. When I first turned on the album I briefly second guessed my mousing ability. I thought perhaps I had inadvertently started up a song by Motion City Soundtrack. They were never all about the piano, nor are they all about synth now, but it seems like they swapped the two with “Singularity.” Overall its a good album but it isn’t so much for me.

The guitars are out with a little more force this time, but there isn’t anything particularly hard on the release. “Rocket” is perhaps the hardest song, but it doesn’t exactly get your blood pumping. Basically what’s going on here is a whole lot of powerpop. Its well crafted and full of hooks, but not my taste anymore. For me, they’ve gone the way of Anberlin. I was a big fan of “Destination: Beautiful,” like I was a fan of “Blueprints for the Black Market.” My interest began waning with both “The Everglow” (although it kept my attention for a while) and “Never Take Friendship Personal.” Now, my interest has all but disappeared with the latest from both.

Why You Might Like It:
A fan of melodic rock and powerpop? This is your cup of tea! If by chance you think that anything that Mae touches turns to gold, this is also for you. Also, if you’ve got a thing for cue-ball-bald band members, Rob Sweitzer and Mae might be just what you’re looking for. I’m not sure if I make the connection with Anberlin because of the pattern alone, or also because of similarity. Nonetheless I get the feeling that if you like new music from Anberlin, you might like this as well.

Final Say:
I can’t recommend it according to my own tastes, but it is not a bad album by any means. They’ve grown as a band and made some different musical decisions and perhaps they’re ones that you’ll like. If you fall into any of the categories I mentioned you should check it out. Otherwise, I don’t think you’ll be to thrilled.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Retroactive Reviews Number 4: Mae

You can expect a new review, tomorrow, Monday, of the latest album from Mae. “Singularity” is their third full-length release, not counting their b-sides release following “Destination: Beautiful.” I was a fan of theirs years ago after first hearing “Embers and Envelopes” on the “Take Action Tour 4” sampler. So, will their latest a worthwhile release? Will it bring me back into the fold? Or will I be disappointed? Check back soon for the review!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Envy On The Coast - Lucy Gray

Band: Envy On The Coast
Album: Lucy Gray
Release Date: August 7, 2007
Label: Photo Finish Records

Three Word Review: Earnest, Fragmented, Promising

Favorite Track: “Vultures”
Why? There is a lot to like about this track. The opening bass line (which, thankfully, recurs), the varied vocal styles, duo vocals which showcase Sal’s vocals, and the song’s air of urgency. The opening track “Sugar Skulls” is up there on this list as well.

Least Favorite Track: “If God Smokes Cheap Cigars”
Why? The song just drops off. With about a minute and a half left the intensity of the song disappears. This actually mirrors the album. This track marks the beginning of the end, after this all the intensity is gone, the remaining songs are all slow and soft. There’s nothing wrong with slow, but they kill the album’s flow in its end. “Lapse” is also fairly bad, it feels incomplete and very rough near its extremely drawn-out end.

My Thoughts:
I like it, I don’t love it. I’m happy to say that I’ve seen Envy On The Coast springboard into [semi-]popularity. They first appeared on my radar when they were the opening act for an acoustic Anthony Green set at the North Star Bar in Philadelphia. They only had their Self-Titled EP then, and it was just on a CD-R, but they were good. I bought it that night, and still love it.

However, there have been some changes made along the way from now until then. “Lucy Gray” is a lot harder during the bulk of the album. It would be a misrepresentation to say that it is hard rock, but the ebb and flow of the EPs intensity is all shoved in the end of this release. However, the musicianship is here. Envy On The Coast has what it takes, and I don’t doubt for one second that they’re going to blowup sometime soon.

“Lucy Gray” is a solid album, but it doesn’t exactly bleed originality, nor does it boast many genre-defining qualities. However, it is very listen-able. Also, what it may lack in originality the band makes up in live performance. They’re full of energy and very genuine.

Why You May or May Not Like It:
One thing to make or break Envy On The Coast for many people is Ryan’s vocal style. It’s not particularly abrasive, but it can be a tipping point. Also, for fans of the EP, some of that sound is lost hear. Some of my favorites by the group are on that album. The likes of “Green Eyes Don’t Lie” and “You Won’t Hear This” are sadly lacking this time through. What is most interesting about “You Won’t Hear This” is that Sal takes over lead vocals. He’s got an excellent voice and it is mostly missing on “Lucy Gray.” I’m not sure why they made the decision to tack all the slow songs on the end of the album, but I think it was a poor choice. If you were looking for more tracks in the same vein of “Suckerpunch” this is a very strong showing in the first half.

Final Say:
As I’ve said, a very solid release. The talent is here, and so is the energy. This young band has lots of potential and it is not lost on this album. They’re touring extensively, as they have been for a while. If they play by you I suggest you make it a point to see them! They’re coming to my college in a week and I’m sure excited to see them. Definitely give this album a listen and lend them some support!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Retroactive Reviews 3: Envy On The Coast

The next review in my ongoing series of catchup reviews is “Lucy Gray” from Envy On The Coast. They’re a bit of a personal favorite of mine. I first saw them a few years back as an opening act, but since then they’ve done some growing and I’ve seen them a few more times. They had an awesome set at Bamboozle 2006, while still rather small and this summer they played at Warped Tour. The crowd was a lot larger for that set, and it’s clear to see that they’re heading up up up!

Check back soon (probably tomorrow) for the review!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Portugal. The Man - Church Mouth

Band: Portugal. The Man
Album: Church Mouth
Release Date: July 24, 2007
Label: Fearless

Three Word Review: Progressive, Blues, Transforming

Favorite Track: “Shade”
Why? It was a tough call. My original favorite track was “Bellies Are Full,” but “Shade” took this title. The vocal highs and lows get me every time. The lyrics are interested and almost twisted. Near the beginning of the track I can’t get enough of the section with the lyrics ‘shouted up to the Northern Territories.’

Least Favorite Track: “Sleeping Sleepers Sleep”
Why? It’s not a bad song, by any means, but it drags the album down in my opinion. It’s awfully slow in comparison to the new sound captured by the album. It has a nice pick up about a minute in, but the loop-sounding beat just doesn’t draw me in.

My Thoughts:
I was a big fan of “Waiter: ‘You Vultures!’” So, I was highly anticipating this album. When it came I was shocked to hear that it sounds very little like it’s predecessors. I’ve often thought that this is almost one half of “Waiter’s” sound, “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” being the other. “Waiter” was a unique fusion of rock and programed synthesizers. It took a few listens to draw me in, but ultimately I was claimed as a fan. However, “Wizard” never quite got me. The rock sound had disappeared and the programmed beats too over. To me, it’s simple algebra, “Church Mouth” + “Wizard” = “Waiter.”

So, as I’ve said “Church Mouth” is a departure from earlier Portugal. The Man. It almost has a southern rock/blues sound to it, and its clear to see where some of the band’s influences come from. I like to think one of them is a personal favorite of mine, The Allman Brothers Band. You might be wondering, ‘what caused them to drop the heavy synth?’ Well, it was revealed in an interview, this progression came during a tour in Germany. Here, in the ‘States, bands typically have a few opens play first then have an hour set. In Germany P.TM was expected to play the entire show by themselves. No, not just a single one-hour set, but an entire three+ hour show. So, naturally they had to improvise and so this sound emerged as they jammed on stage for hours.

Why You Might Not Like It:
If you’re not a fan of blues rock or whining guitar this might not be your cup of tea. If the main reason you like P.TM was the synth, this might not tickle your fancy. If “It’s Complicated Being a Wizard” is your ideal progressive rock, you might want to steer clear, this time around. However, I say you should give it a try, you might not know if you’ll like it until you try it.

Final Say:
Definitely give it a listen! I’m very happy with what has come out of “Church Mouth.” It’s an interesting and compelling listen. I would like to see a return of the programmed beats in future releases, but I hope this sound sticks around. Also, the band’s art is very unique and interesting, you might want to check that out too. If you like it, I’ve heard they put on a hell of a show, so when they’re playing in town near you go check them out! I know I plan to.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Retroactive Reviews Continue

Since I missed a boatload of releases during my hiatus, I plan to catch up with at least a handful. If I keep it up you could be expecting them a few times a week, or at least a little more often than usual. So, the next review you can expect is “Church Mouth” from Portugal. The Man. It came out in late July and has earned plenty of listens from me since then. So, check back soon to read what I have to say about it!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Boys Night Out - Boys Night Out

Band: Boys Night Out
Album: Boys Night Out
Release Date: June 26, 2007
Label: Ferret Music

Three word review: Uneventful, Rehash, Uninspired

Favorite Track: “Get Your Head Straight”
Why? It’s first. Upon hearing it I didn’t realize how much I disliked this album, yet. It is hard for me to pick out another song that I actually enjoy. If anything it might be “The Heirs of Error” for its mix of screaming, melody, and group chorus.

Least Favorite Track: “Fall for the Drinker”
Why? It is boring, and drudges along too slowly. Connor Lovat-Fraser’s voice is too whiney and the duo vocals with Pasalic aren’t much better. Like most of the songs on this album, I think it should have been cut.

My thoughts:
I’m very underwhelmed with this album. To tell you the truth, it is one of the reasons I stopped reviewing albums here. I had absolutely no desire to even attempt a long write-up on it, so, I never did. It is as if instead of following their own creative ambition, found on “Trainwreck,” they listened only to the criticisms. They took a giant leap backwards with this self-titled. It is as I’ve said, uneventful and a complete rehash of 2003’s “Make Yourself Sick.”

The musical progression found on the 2005 concept release is no where to be seen here. It is a completely forgettable release. While it shares the musical style of it’s older brother, it lacks it’s freshness. What was delightful about “MYS” is worn out and tired here. My musical tastes have changed, a lot, since 2003 and this just isn’t for me. I still enjoy “MYS” but it is largely due to nostalgia. I played the hell out of that album, so it sticks with me as a point in time for my life, this self-titled doesn’t have that advantage.

Why you might like it:
If you are a huge fan of “Make Yourself Sick” and are still waiting for more, this is for you. The musical style is largely the same. Also, if you were a hater of “Trainwreck,” pleading for a return to the ‘norm,’ this may also be for you. If you are still a big fan of the likes of Armor For Sleep or Senses Fail this may also be for you. I warn you however, if you used to love those types of bands but have since moved on to just liking them on a nostalgic basis, you won’t find much here either.

Final Say:
Listen at your leisure, or don’t. If you haven’t heard this yet I’m not advising you to rush out and pick it up, by any means. In fact, unless you’re absolutely dying for “Make Yourself Sick B-Sides,” (and I mean b-sides, as in not good enough to make the original album) I’d say don’t even bother.

Still Alive, Barely Kicking

I’m not dead, I just got lazy, and you probably stopped checking for updates. In fact, I’m probably writing this for no one!

However, I’m making a triumphant return with results that are most likely going to revel in mediocrity. Inspired by the riveting 3 word review over at Taciturn (there’s still some activity over there, too), I’m bringing back Audiosyncratic in a short, yet wonderfully digestible format. And I’ll be picking up right where I left off! Which means that for now you can expect reviews from albums you’ve heard months ago.

So, you can expect (soon) an abbreviated review of the latest (okay months and months old, now) and not-quite-greatest from Boys Night Out. Also, to reduce the maid vibe around here teaser posts (like this one) will be tagged as 'teaser.' Creative ehh? Well, check back soon!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Upcoming This Week

This week I'll be reviewing the newest self-titled from Boys Night Out. Going into the review I'm very curious to see what they have to offer now. I was initially drawn to them by "Make Yourself Sick" then was putoff by the concept album "Trainwreck" However, over a year later I returned to it to really enjoy it. So, hopefully they've been able to maintain their distinctive sound and forge a path forward towards maturity.

Also, I've decided to include the album art in my posts from here on out. I was planning on starting a few week ago, but I forgot the first week with "On Letting Go" from Circa Survive. And last week, the album art for "Truth in Sincerity" was just to plain and boring to bother with. Check back later this week for the review.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Amber Pacific – Truth In Sincerity

Band: Amber Pacific
Album: Truth In Sincerity
Release Date: May 22, 2007
Label: Hopeless

“Truth In Sincerity” is Amber Pacific’s second full-length release and third in total if you count their debut EP “Fading Days,” but do they deliver? In some sense yes they do, but unfortunately, in another they fall sadly short. If you’re a big fan of theirs then there is going to be a lot here for you. To come right out and say it, “Truth In Sincerity” is easily their best release to date, but it’s not without its faults. However, many of its faults are the fundamental shortcomings of the band overall.

The first aspect of Amber Pacific that separates the fans from the haters is lead singer Matt Young’s voice. He’s got a very distinct, yet bland voice that funnels listeners into love it and hate it groups. After just one song you’ll be able to determine if you like his voice and if you do then it’s time to progress to the rest of the depth of the record, however, if you fall into the latter category, you might just want to turn off the CD. Young’s voice is prominent throughout the entire disc so if you aren’t a fan it will bring down the whole experience.

So, if Young has passed your vocal litmus test, there’s just about one thing you can expect from “Truth In Sincerity” (besides a cheesy title), and that’s typical power chord fueled emo tinged pop-punk. What Amber Pacific lacks fundamentally is depth. There just isn’t much to their sound; musically, lyrically, or vocally. However, that doesn’t necessarily make for a bad experience.

The disc opener “Rule #76”’s brooding piano driven sound will tell you absolutely nothing about what you’re getting into. It’s the absolute definition of the pointless or unrelated introduction; it doesn’t even execute its transition to “Summer (In B)” very well. What follows, however, is plain old good pop-punk fun. Songs like “You’re The Only One,” “Take Me From This Place,” and “Watching Over Me” seem to be struck from the very same vein as other pop-punk acts like (the original) Good Charlotte or Story of the Year.

The ninth track “We Think We’re Hardcore, Cause Well, We Are” is just about as pointless as it gets. It is 45 wasted seconds of flow ruining guitar sweeps and ominous bells. I suppose its almost a funny jab at hardcore, but it really just derails any continuity of the CD. Speaking of continuity, that’s another aspect that will divide potential fans. Depending on how you look at it, “Truth In Sincerity” is either, very solid and consistent, or straight up monotonous and repetitive. Almost all of the tracks sound similar and there is no clear distinction on the whole.

“Truth In Sincerity” makes for a good car ride and is an excellent summer listen. However, like I’ve no doubt made clear, there are several aspects of this release that will serve as tipping points that will either endear this CD to fans or drive listeners away. It is an improvement from their previous works (with some stupid exceptions like “We’re Hardcore”) and for that I give them some credit. But, in no way do they seem to be striving to evolve from their generic songs about heartache. If you can stand Young’s voice, take it for what it is (basic pop-punk) and there’s a solid chance you’ll enjoy it.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Format Summer Tour!

I haven't made it apparent here, yet, but if you know me, you know that The Format is just about my favorite band ever. Their summer tour is right around the corner and I can't wait! I've already got my tickets preordered to see them in New York City, at the Starland Ballroom, and in Philadelphia at the Trocadero! That's right, I'll be seeing them three times this summer, and it'll be three days in a row! So, you can expect to see lots of coverage of their shows, including lots of stuff about their supporting bands including Steel Train, Reubens Accomplice, Piebald, and Limbeck!

Tickets for most of the shows are going on sale tomorrow, so if you're interested in seeing them in a city near you be sure to order tickets soon!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Upcoming: This Week

So I guess you could say I was sort of in a blogging mood today and I got right down to getting some stuff written. So, if you haven’t already, check out my review of On Letting Go, and also, head over to Technosyncratic for two new articles. However, I’m shifting my focus already to what is coming up. This week there isn’t exactly much being released that I’m even remotely interested in. Luckily, I had put some thought into reviewing the latest from Amber Pacific, Truth in Sincerity. I was a pretty big fan of their first EP, I was actually eagerly awaiting its release way back in 2004. Since then I haven’t been following them much, nor was I in love with 2005’s The Possibility and The Promise. However, I’m looking forward to delving into their latest to see what they’ve been doing over the past few years. So, check back later this week for the review!

Circa Survive – On Letting Go

Band: Circa Survive
Album: On Letting Go
Release Date: May 29, 2007
Label: Equal Vision

So it’s been two years since Juturna. What could possibly be expected from Anthony Green and Circa Survive? Your feelings about On Letting Go, will probably be shaped by what you were hoping for. If you wanted more of what you loved two years ago, well then you’re going to absolutely love this release. Conversely, if you were hoping that within the past two years their sound had matured and that On Letting Go would mark a change, you’re going to feel a lot different this time around.

Personally I fall into the latter category, but after numerous listens it’s starting to grow on me. After getting past my initial hopes that what I’d be listening to would be jump forward from Juturna it has been easy for me to remember just why I loved Juturna and why I’m starting to love On Letting Go. That is, Circa Survive has some amazing musicians and brilliant direction, even if it feels two years old. As is to be expected Anthony Green is on the top of his game with bone-chillingly honest vocals. His style is unlike any other and it’s clear that he’s simply the best around. And luckily for him, and for us, he’s surrounded by a stellar band.

I once read someone remark that “All Circa Survive songs sound exactly the same, new and old.” While I don’t exactly agree, part of me knows exactly the basis for the comment. When listening to On Letting Go, it almost seems as though the entire album is one amorphous blob. While the songs are clearly different when you really get down to it, during a casual listen it can be hard to tell where one song ends and another begins. There aren’t very many standout songs on the album, at all. In fact, I feel like the only song that really has a unique sound is the final track “Your Friends Are Gone.” While it too falls into the Juturna B-Side category, it’s intro easily stands out from the pack. With it’s initial electronic sound and varying motions throughout it offers the most diverse content, musically.

Early on the album “In the Morning and Amazing” offers a progressive sound. It shows off the band’s talent with some intense guitar work and a solid driving drum beat. “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is in the Dose” offers up a more ambient and languid pacing creating a more mainstream sound. “Semi Constructive Criticism” further reiterates the sound of Juturna along with others like “Living Together” and “Close Your Eyes to See” that seem to be struck from the same vein.

Overall, I’ve begun to enjoy the album. While I was initially turned off because On Letting Go is essentially Juturna 2.0, Juturna Redux, or Juturna B-Sides, I’m appreciating it a lot more. If I gave a numerical score I’d certainly knock off a few points because after two years, there’s no innovation to be seen. However, musically there’s a lot here. Circa Survive, as a band, is stellar. The instrumentation on the album is tight and the skill of each member is clear. Further, they’ve got arguably the best vocalist in the scene. Anthony Green’s vocals are amazing and his voice can easily be dubbed mesmerizing. If you were a fan of their 2005 release, you’re sure to find plenty to like here. All the ingredients of a great album are present, and this is just another reminder why Circa Survive is a great band.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

It’s Coming, I Swear

The plan is to finally sit down and write my review of On Letting Go tomorrow after work. I’ve been listening to it quite a bit over the past two days and I think I’ve formed some solid opinions on it, so I won’t be cheating it by only judging it on first reaction.

In other news, I’m changing the name of my technology blog, to better suite the pairing with this blog. So, Bêtise is switching over to Technosyncratic. You’ll be able to find that at So you should bookmark that instead of the old link, or you can continue to use the link on the right side.

Friday, June 1, 2007

This Week: On Letting Go

It's already Friday and I didn't even post to tell you what I'll be reviewing. So, here goes: On Letting Go from Circa Survive. I've been working a lot lately so I've only given it a once through so far. I don't want to get into what I'm thinking about it really, but I'll say that I haven't exactly been trying to find the time to listen to it more. That doesn't mean it's no good, but it might be one that takes some time to grow. So, check back soon for the post (maybe tomorrow).

Monday, May 28, 2007

Live: The Dear Hunter and Days Away

Yesterday, Sunday May 27, 2007 “The Dear Hunter” played at the Trocadero in Philadelphia with “Days Away” and “Person L.” If you’ve never been, the Troc is very small and a great spot for an intimate show. However, it’s not without its flaws. The standing room is very cramped, which is to be expected and it got hot very quickly. One of the biggest drawbacks is that after each set, the band who just finished had the lug all their gear off the front of the stage and through the crowd. It obviously doesn’t affect the quality of the show itself, but it was a minor annoyance. Secondly, the sound tech (for this show at least) had amateur and douche bag written all over him. Throughout the show (even during sets) he shoved his way through the crowd to get on stage and fiddle with something several times, and each time it wasn’t quite apparent what exactly he was doing, besides annoying the crowd.

Now, to the more important part of this review: First up was “Person L.” I’m actually sure if “The Starting Line” is still around or if Ken Vasoli (their lead singer) is just working on this side project. What really matters though, is that they weren’t very good at all. Their music wasn’t exactly very refined and it lacked anything of interest. In order to try to keep the crowd interested Vasoli (on guitar) over acted and jumped around a whole lot, not always during parts of songs you might expect a little bit of action. Sadly, their most enjoyable song was a cover of a song by “The Roots.” To give them some credit, they said it was only their third show ever, but I don’t think they’re going to improve too too much.

Second up for the night was “Days Away.” Prior to the show I’d never put too much interest in them. All I had ever heard from them was an older release the “ESP EP.” However, after seeing them, I intend to seek out some of their other stuff, including their new album when it comes out. Their music was very tight and it was immediately obvious that they’ve been around for some time (1998 specifically). Their new music was interesting and fits perfectly into their indie and at times almost ambient sound. The lead singer reproduces his high vocals with rock solid accuracy and the back up work of the rest of the band was also excellent.

The point of the night, however, was “The Dear Hunter” and they delivered! At the beginning of the show, it wasn’t obvious if the crowd was there for The Dear Hunter or if it was mostly comprised of little girl fans of “The Starting Line.” However, it became immediately clear that it was The Dear Hunter that drew the crowd. Throughout their set the audience screamed all of the words at the top of their lungs. Somewhat disappointingly they only played about 6 songs, but their set lasted all of an hour, including one encore. Their sound was excellent even without all the bells and whistles of the studio recording. The show was thoroughly worth the wait and the hot cramped setting.

Below are a few pictures from the show plus three videos. Enjoy!

Person L

Days Away

The Dear Hunter

Days Away

The Dear Hunter - The Church and The Dime

The Dear Hunter - Red Hands

Friday, May 25, 2007

A (Potentially) Interesting Tid-Bit

If you’re interested in the review below (or here) then you might be interested to hear that this Sunday night (May 27, 2007) I’ll be going to see The Dear Hunter live with a couple of friends at the Trocadero in Philadelphia. So hopefully I’ll have some good things to say about their live performance and maybe a few photos to keep your interest. The Dear Hunter will be performing with Days Away and Person L, which is Ken Vasoli of The Starting Line. Also, if you’re interested in going, as of the time of this post tickets are still available via Ticketmaster. They go for $10, but with all the bogus fees it comes out to somewhere around $15.

The Dear Hunter - Act II: The Mean Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading

Band: The Dear Hunter
Album: Act II: The Mean Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading
Release Date: May 22, 2007
Label: Triple Crown

These days Triple Crown has a talented and varied group of artists, including “Brand New” and “As Tall As Lions,” but the musical creativity of their lineup seems to pale in comparison to “The Dear Hunter,” especially after Casey Crescenzo’s latest offering, “Act II: The Mean Of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading.” “Act I: The Lake South, The River North” effectively set in motion a multi-act musical epic. The EP “Act I” although lasting about forty minutes contained more musical depth than most indie and rock releases these days. The extensive variety of instrumentation provided the EP with an astounding number of musical styles ranging from the jam session-esque “The Inquiry of Ms. Terri” to the almost spectral and eerie “City Scape.”

After 2006’s release of “Act I” the question lingered what would come next? With the astounding accomplishment already under The Dear Hunter’s belt could the follow up be as intriguing or masterful? Could Casey and crew live up to their previous creation? The answer is yes, unmistakably yes. Not only does “Act II” continue the concept story from last year, there are noticeable improvements in the mastermind’s vocals and the music is even more complex and wonderfully varied.

Early in the album sits “The Lake and the River” which is rich with various shakers chimes and lesser-used hand instruments. Crescenzo’s matured vocals are easily noticeable here as the song is deepened by additional background chanting vocals that create the driving and urgent atmosphere of the track. The toe-tapping ragtime of “The Oracles On The Delphi Express” adds not only to the album’s stylistic range but also to its lovable and endearing quality.

The Bitter Suite, Parts 1, 2, & 3 span over thirteen minutes and transform gracefully shifting through a variety of musical movements. In opening a solely piano backed serenade welcomes the listener. The song builds with snowballing emotion until it comes to head with elegant crashes and crescendos from the full band. The collections third movement comes after a brief tailing off and begins an instantly endearing jazzy toe-tapper. “Part 2” comes to an understated end using shakers and other underutilized instruments. “Part 3” begins similarly with soft and emotional piano but quickly moves into yet another movement as drums and understated chimes and backing vocals create a fully-realized atmosphere. The song continues through an assortment of highs and lows culminating eerily with a beautifully concocted cacophony of horns and spectral echoes.

One of the epic album’s ear catching standouts, “Smiling Swine,” is dripping with a matured show tune feel that keeps the pace of the album moving with fleshed out accompanying vocals and finger snaps. The fifteenth and final track of “Act II,” “Vital Vessels Vindicate” also wanders through a number of musical movements and at times is directly reminiscent of “Act I: The Lake South, The River North.” It is the perfect closing to this amazingly complex album.
Had it had ever been a question if “Act I” was merely a fluke, not a stroke of musical genius, that possibility is no longer. “Act II” demonstrates full well that Casey Crescenzo is musically talented beyond a shadow of a doubt. Once again (and in such a short period of time) he’s released an absolutely epic concept album that not offers up a riveting story but it’s portrayed in masterful musical detail. The only question left now, is how will The Dear Hunter follow up this release with Act III and when will our ears be graced by it?

Monday, May 21, 2007

Upcoming This Week

After taking a week off after my review of "On The Verge", I’ll be starting back up again with the newest release from former TREOS front man Casey Crescenzo. Last year saw the release of The Dear Hunter’s EP, "Act I: The Lake South, The River North." In a short period of time following this concept has received its full-length second part, "Act II: The Meaning of, And All Things Regarding Ms. Leading." Check back later this week for my review.

Also, I’ve started back up with posting at Bêtise after a nearly month long hiatus, so please head over there and see what’s going on.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The Years Gone By – On The Verge

Band: The Years Gone By
Album: On The Verge
Release Date: May 1, 2007
Label: None/DIY

Like the past week’s review, this too is late, considerably late. If you haven’t noticed, I haven’t been posting much lately, here or at Bêtise. I haven’t really had the motivation to write a post, or worry about reviewing a CD. I haven’t even had much motivation to even read the blogs and news that I usually check up on daily. I’ve been mulling it over for a while, and I fully intend to keep on here, but Bêtise, might not have as favorable a fate. There’s nothing definite, I might just be in a slump, with the end of the semester upon me, and after all it’s finals week here. That aside, I’ve listened to On The Verge a few times, and I’m prepared to give it a short review.

This time around, The Years Gone By, aren’t offering up much of anything new. Last year’s self-titled was upbeat and full of fun catchy lyrics. The Years Gone By are hometown heroes taking the plunge into the music industry trying to get by with energetic live performances and the DIY spirit. I’ve got to give them credit for that. They’re a group of hardworking guys who love music. They’ve got the energy and the will to make it, but they’ve stuck themselves right in the middle of an aging genre that is quickly growing stale.

“Them 1, Me 0” is full of poppy full band chants and hard hitting guitars, but it just doesn’t seem to do it for me. “Anniversary” too, has all the makings of a good pop-punk song: catchy chorus and lyrics full of fun hooks, a driving beat, and energetic breakdowns, but again, it doesn’t have much lasting power.

I’m not sure what’s causing my lack luster response to the EP. I’m left wondering if my tastes have just changed too much, or if I feel like I’ve heard it all before, and maybe this time it’s just not as good. Unfortunately, I feel it’s not the first reason. In fact, lately my account has been inundated with the likes of Allister, A New Found Glory, and Fenix TX. So, far from it, if anything I was primed for a great pop-punk release. I fear then that I’ve just heard it all before. The Years Gone By haven’t grown into a new sound at all. In fact, they’ve even re-recorded the opening track from their self-titled, “Sever The Ties.” Even though it seems like its got a little more emotion to it this time around, I find myself longing for the original version.

When I first found out that The Years Gone By were coming out with a new EP I was really excited. Their full-length earned many plays for me, and I was hoping for a stellar follow up, but unfortunately I’ve come away a little disappointed. Hopefully, as they continue their sound will mature and they’ll be able to forge a new road in the weakening pop-punk genre. However, until then it seems like they might just remain a “High School Sensation.”

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Upcoming: This Week

Out yesterday (Tuesday May 1, 2007) is the On The Verge EP from The Years Gone By. They’re a local band, from Freehold, NJ. I’ve been a fan of them for a few years, ever since I saw them at a show at the firehouse in my town. They’ve got a lot of energy and a genuine pop punk sound. They released their debut self-titled last year and it earned itself quite a few listens from me.

As I recall a few songs from this EP can by found at their myspace, so if you’d like a preview head over there. My review for this should be up in the next few days, so check back then to read my conclusions.

Monday, April 30, 2007

PlayRadioPlay! – The Frequency EP

Band: PlayRadioPlay!
Album: The Frequency EP
Release Date: April 24, 2007
Label: Island

As I previously mentioned PlayRadioPlay! has been on my radar for a year or two, and I’m thrilled that the project is not only still chugging along, but that he’s been signed and released an actual EP. PlayRadioPlay! is a solo projected headed up by Texas teenager Dan Hunter. I read that his music has essentially stemmed from the unfortunate loss of his father a few years ago. After struggling with drug abuse and addiction, Hunter has reemerged as a much more positive person, and he bills himself as an all-loving hippie (partially due to his long hair).

Unlike some of the albums I’ve been reviewing lately, The Frequency EP was immediately endearing. It didn’t take a few listens for me to really get into, in fact about thirty seconds into the first song I was remembering why I’ve loved PlayRadioPlay! since I first heard it. Hunter’s music style is light and easily described as happy, yet under the surface his lyrics tell a much more serious story. His pain and personal turbulence are easily apparent, yet his musical and vocal style makes for an uplifting experience.

The first track “Bad Cops Bad Charities” echoes his ‘straight-edge’ lifestyle without sounding self-righteous like so many people who call themselves XXX do. His lyrics are thoughtful and endearing and remarkably catchy. The chorus of the track “The big stars that crash cars and get paid / To say lines and pay fines and get laid / I don’t have to look to see / That that place isn’t me” will have you singing along by the second time the verse comes around as Hunter’s youthful voice makes his songs accessible and instantly lovable.

The autobiographical “Even Fairy Tale Characters Would Be Jealous” taints the Hellogoodbye-eque beat with some history of Hunter’s drug-tinged past. However, this uplifting song illustrates his complete turn around. This inspiring story shows that no longer does he rely on drugs for a high; instead his enjoyment of life comes through love and passion.

The six song EP ends with an electronic cover of “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. The cover is interestingly different, yet accurate. Overall, this EP is extremely enjoyable, especially for fans of Hellogoodbye or The Postal Service. However, Hunter’s uniquely youthful voice and thoughtful, self-inspired lyrics set him apart. He is currently on tour through much of the South. PlayRadioPlay! will be featured at The Bamboozle in New Jersey as well as several stops on the Warped Tour. For more information about his tour or to hear some of his songs, visit his myspace. Finally, you can expect a full-length debut later this year.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Upcoming: This Week!

First off I’d like to apologize for being a few days later than usual (without warning) getting my last review up, but today I finally posted it, and you can find it here. With that said, I’d also like to buy myself a little bit of leeway for this week’s release as well. Starting this Thursday at my school (the University of Hartford) is the annual Spring Fling, which is basically 4 straight days of heavy drinking. So, I can’t exactly promise that I’ll have the time or the physical ability to write my review in a timely fashion. I’d still like to get it done on time, but I don’t want to make any promises.

With that out of the way, this weeks review will be the “Frequency EP” from PlayRadioPlay!. For those of you who aren’t familiar with PlayRadioPlay! it is (last time I checked at least) a solo project of a young man from Texas. I first heard of him through a friend on Purevolume, a year or maybe even two years ago. I was instantly taken with his catchy synthesized tunes, and now that he’s releasing an EP (out today) I’m really excited about it. I really hope it came out good because I’d be very happy to see him succeed. So, if you’re interested in checking out some of the music head over to his myspace!

Waking Ashland – The Well

Band: Waking Ashland
Album: The Well
Release Date: April 17, 2007
Label: Immortal

I’ve been a fan of Waking Ashland, for a while, basically since their debut, the “I am for You EP.” At the time when I was first turned on to them, piano rock had a stranglehold on me and their infectious sound immediately grasped me, particularly the track “The Politics of Life.” However, since then my tastes have changed quite a bit, but as they continued to release more music (the “Telescopes EP” and “Composure”) I still found pleasure in listening to their lighthearted and often upbeat sound. So, as the release of their latest, “The Well,” drew nearer I wondered if their genuine charm would hold up to my evolved tastes or if their not-quite-so-unique sound would leave me hoping for something more.

I am pleased to say, that they kick it off right! As soon as I began my first listen I was immediately grabbed by the indie sound of “Salt Lake Jam.” However, as the CD wore on I found myself losing interest, and fast. After the fifth track (of twelve) I found it hard to continue listening. Not that the music is bad, it just isn’t very interesting after the first half. It seems that somewhere along the line they lost faith in their newer sound, and reverted to what they do best.

The instantly lovable “Salt Lake Jam” starts off the album with some brooding piano and a perfect sprinkling of blues guitar. This foot-tapper ebbs and flows perfectly as it builds to high points and lets off steam at just the right moments. Jonathan Jones’ vocals are strong here and show that his always-pleasant voice has been even further refined since we last heard him. “Diamonds in the Hillside,” the album’s fourth track, shares a lot with its opener. It has a very deliberate pace and some more, well placed blues guitar. Its theme of change is easily discernable in the obvious and unfortunately uninventive lyrics. Yet, it still retains Waking Ashland’s signature charm.

“Handful of Names” is upbeat and poppy but has an interesting and somewhat-unique allure. The chorus is extremely catchy and will probably have you signing along by the second time it comes around. While it teeters on the edge of being a bit too repetitive, it is instantaneously endearing. Picking up next is “Your Intentions” which is an equally poppy number, that sports a bit of vocal dimension that gets away with sounding a bit strained at times. While this pair of songs don’t carry the same indie growth of “Salt Lake Jam” and “Diamonds” which frame them, they’re nestled nicely and provide an acceptable balance.

Expecting this nice pattern of old and new to continue I found it easy to accept “Change” for its slow pop sound. It is after all this very sound that stole my heart just a few years ago. Following this is where, even on the first listen of the album I began to lose interest. During “Sinking is Swimming” I found myself thanking my lucky stars that the uninteresting track garnered with uninventive lyrics was rather short. It slows down the waning CD and unfortunately “Mark Like Mine” doesn’t do much to change the pace. While it certainly picks up from its comparably slow start, it doesn’t offer much of anything new. It, like most of the rest of the album is easily forgettable and repetitive.

The only bright star of the remaining tracks of the CD is “Money” which seems to share a very similar piano line as my favorite “Salt Lake Jam.” Aside from this, it has just about everything I love in one song; some good piano rock, handclapping, and the whole band joining in an energized chant. While it’s a last minute switch to the new and improved style, it is just too little too late to save the CD for me. While overall the album grew on me after a few more listens, I just can’t find what I was hoping for all along. However, if you’re content with some more of the same, you should be pleasantly unsurprised. While not all of the tracks in this release show the progress of my “Salt Lake,” “Diamonds,” and “Money” their sound is overall much more refined than it has been in the past. Jones’s voice is improved and polished. The musicianship is quality, yet there seems to be an overall lack of creativity, in much of the music and even in the lyrics. Although the album started with a new and addictive flavor, it turns bland pretty quickly.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Upcoming: This Week

Today, April 17, 2007 saw the release of “The Well,” from Waking Ashland. This is their second full-length album and fourth release. While at the moment I can’t offer any judgment on the latest release, I can tell you based on prior experience that they could be likened to bands like Copeland and Sherwood. So, if you’re a fan of those bands and are new to Waking Ashland, maybe you should check out some of their older stuff, and check back for my review of “The Well.” As usual my review will be up by the end of the week, and also, please check out my technology blog, here.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Bright Eyes – Cassadaga

Band: Bright Eyes
Album: Cassadaga
Release Date: April 10, 2007
Label: Saddle Creek

Cassadaga tells the full story that last month’s Four Winds EP hinted at. And believe it or not, our favorite tortured songwriter is still coming down and still finding himself, oh and he still hates Bush. However, just because some of the motifs remain unchanged does not mean that Cassadaga is a pure and simple rehash. Much to my pleasure, it is potentially one of the best-produced and most full albums from Bright Eyes. The tunes are ripe with melodic backup vocals and are a strong showing from the full band.

As you may have noticed, if you’ve read some of my other reviews, I’m just not a fan of excess talking in albums, whether it is introduction or dénouement. While the song at the heart of “Clairaudients (Kill or Be Killed)” is earnest and telling of the albums themes, you have to suffer through nearly four minutes of babble framing the six minute song. What I concluded about “Four Winds” previously holds true. However, now, within the full context of the album the songs questioning air emanates more fully and much more true.

The complete sound of the full band rings true in the high points of “If the Brakeman Turns My Way,” and in “Hot Knives” and “Make a Plan to Love Me.” The backup vocals shine brightly in the sometimes-rough sound of “Hot Knives.” This song gives great insight into the album’s theme. The song is about finding oneself and moving on. Ultimately this theme of change is central to Conor Oberst’s tone for the album. Amongst its at times Irish-esque violins “Soul Singer in a Session Band” brings questions of musical direction to the forefront, hardly a new topic. Yet, Oberst’s coarse charm gives this nearly exhausted focus new life.

Part of Oberst’s soul-searching revolves around substance abuse. It becomes openly apparent in “Cleanse Song” comes right out and says it. Possibly one of my favorite moments of the disc comes in this song “On a detox walk / Over Glendale Park / Over sidewalk chalk / Some rope read ‘start over.’” The theme slightly hidden under a creative guise but is easily interpreted in “If the Brakeman Turns My Way.”

What would a Bright Eyes release be without some quibbling with George Bush and some questioning of religion? In “Classic Cars” Oberst states: “And I keep long for that blindfold faith,” which furthers “Four Winds’” suggestion that “The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute / If you learn them all together you get close to the truth.” “No One Would Riot for Less” is full up with politics: “From the madness of the governments / To the vengeance of the sea,” which seems to lend itself to the ever popular topic of war in Iraq and possibly [Bush’s] handling of hurricane Katrina and New Orleans.

Among the homogenous sound of the full band, “Middleman” is a clear stand out, which emphasizes the CD’s overall country or folk sound. It’s got a western moving sound to it almost spectral at times. In Oberst’s search for himself he finds that “The gray areas are mine / The in-between, the absentee.” As if in his journey he has lost his identity and now waivers in limbo unsure where to go next.

Within the folk twang of “I Must Belong Somewhere” I sounds as if out hero has finally found his place. “Everything, it must belong somewhere / I know that now, that's why I'm staying here,” could it be true? Just as we’re beginning to believe that finally maybe our grief-stricken musician has found himself and found sobriety the album’s final track “Lime Tree” seems to contradict this comforting thought, where yet again Oberst’s trademark agonized words surface. Yet, this is a perfect ending for the Bright Eye’s fan. What would become of this brilliant songwriter if he were perfectly happy?

I like to think of it as musical schadenfreude on the part of Bright Eyes fans everywhere, but it is Oberst’s tortured soul that fuels his poetic lyrics. And yet again, his witty take on personal suffering makes for a brilliant album. And this time, Cassadaga is absolutely full not only of talented songwriting, but also it is bursting at the seams with shining music to accompany his distressed prose.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Upcoming This Week

Out today is Cassadaga from Bright Eyes. You can expect a review of the LP by Friday. In the meantime, if you haven’t already, check out my review of the Four Winds EP which is the precursor to Cassadaga. Also, until then don’t forget to check out the links to Bêtise and Taciturn to the right.

Anyone Can Comment

If you haven’t noticed, you're now allowed to comment whether you have an account or not. Just the other day I realized that comments were set to only allow Google or Blogger members to comment. So, in the spirit of letting anyone voice their opinion I set it to allow anyone to comment. Now if you’d like to comment, feel free to do so! This goes the same for Bêtise. Have a nice day!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Live: Sound the Alarm with Sandlot Heroes with Exclusive Live Video!

Tonight there was another small show at the Hawk’s Nest on campus. It’s funny how it almost exactly mirrored last week’s show. Two bands, one better than the other by far, and hardly anyone in the crowd. I suppose no one in the crowd isn’t a big deal financially because the university pays them to come, they don’t rely on ticket sales, but it can’t be so much fun for the bands.

Sandlot Heroes opened up. They’re pretty basic pop-punk, the hometown hero type. I can’t say they were bad, but they weren’t exactly impressive. One of the best things they’ve got going for them is the drummer’s girlfriend, who is quite the looker. Joking aside, their songs are catchy, but lack depth. They display all the telltale signs of a small time band, which isn’t necessarily bad. The typical four-piece is complete with guitarist/lead singer who’s got the gelled up almost punk-esque hair, his short and built companion complete with hat, the odd-man-out bassist, and the not-quite-Travis Barker-drummer. He even had the Famous Stars and Straps fitted, just not quite enough tattoos. Their performance wasn’t bad but far from perfect, but at the price of free, I can’t complain too much.

The treat of the night was Sound the Alarm, an oh my god, real band, on an actual label (Geffen). Their performance was tight, both in sound and stage antics. As is often the case, after seeing them live, I appreciate them a lot more than I would have otherwise. I’ll actually be looking into their CD, which is out in June. Although, I feel I might have been a bit of a dick when I confessed I might not end up paying for it. I did, however, contribute a few bucks to the beer-fund and snatched a two-song sampler, which I got signed by two of the members.

Their songs are fairly catchy and full-bodied. They’re not just a few chords and whiney vocals. Instead it is clear that there is real musicianship behind their work, and for this I commend them. They also explained that this was the first time they played through their entire album (except one track) live and I have to say it was thoroughly enjoyable. This was also the first time they played “Fight For” live. And guess what! I got a video of it!

Check out some of the photos below (and the video of “Fight For”). Plus check them both out on myspace!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Academy Is… - Santi

Band: The Academy Is…
Album: Santi
Release Date: April 3, 2007
Label: Fueled By Ramen/Atlantic

When I first began Audiosyncratic I wasn’t sure how I was going to work the reviews. It basically came down to me wondering if I would base my reviews strictly on opinion or if I would take each release for what it was and analyze it fairly. I’ve got to say that I feel like thus far I’ve done a pretty commendable job of sticking to the latter. With every CD I’ve reviewed I did my best to compare it to its predecessors and evaluate it for evidence of growth of the band. So, I’d say that I’ve been overall, quite fair to each album that I’ve reviewed, and I hope you agree.

On that note, I’d like to say, in comparing Santi to their previous full length, Almost Here, I just simply cannot find much good to say about it. I wouldn’t go as far to say that I was ever a huge fan of theirs, but Almost Here certainly earned a considerable number of plays, in fact, sadly, because of it The Academy Is… is ranked 19 on my top artists of all time on They have quite a bit going for them. They first got picked up by Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy) in Chicago and were signed to Fueled By Ramen, with the likes of Panic! At the Disco and the aforementioned Fall Out Boy. As it seems, FBR is the perfect breeding grounds for pop-punk bands to launch into stardom. I wholly anticipated that they would steadily gain fame (as they have been touring with Almost Here under their belts). Now, however, I just can’t see it happening, although maybe the changes found here (that I find disappointing) will be just what they needed to make it big, and signing with Atlantic seems like that might be the case.

Upon the releases opening with “Same Blood,” I was initially impressed. It starts with a harder introduction and fades into a calmer body. The song features William Beckett’s vocals as usual, but this time around they seems much more refined, sweeter and softer, and more melodic. The second track “LAX To O’Hare” is when it took its first turn for the worse in my opinion. The music at times seemed busier than their older stuff, which wouldn’t be bad if it didn’t seem too chaotic, and almost messy. The guitar seems recycled for the previous songs and at times the vocal style, simply reeks of Panic!.

“We’ve Got A Big Mess On Our Hands” was the first song to surface, a few months ago, and it’s apparent why. It is immediately more accessible than the previous two tracks. It is more like their older material, in that it is catchy and singable. In this vein also comes “Neighbors,” which might be my favorite track on the album. It is certainly the catchiest on the album and bleeds rock anthem. It’s got personality and fortunately this keeps its repetitive nature from dragging it down.

“Sleeping With Giants (Lifetime)” was the first time I could put my finger on just what it was that I don’t like about Santi. It seems to me that it is over produced; I would assume this is most strictly the fault of producer Butch Walker. Someone should have told him to lay off, but I suppose if you’re trying to formulate the next pop album of the year, you’ve got to listen to him. It comes, then, as no surprise to me that he has produced artists like Pink, Lindsay Lohan, and Avril Lagivne. “Bulls In Brooklyn” also stinks of his talents medaling. It’s got a manufactured sound, and by that I don’t mean synthesized, I mean that it comes from a formula. I’d say that this formula is probably borrowed partially from the likes of Fall Out Boy, which is also not a surprise.

While The Academy Is… haven't lost everything they had going for them, just the essential substance that defined them is almost gone. It’s hard to say if it’s their fault or that of their label, which is clearly in the moneymaking business. It is unfortunate to see a band, which not only had potential to go places, but also a distinctive brand, be snatched up by a major label and forced into a pop would-be sensation cookie cutter. To go off slightly on a tangent, it was Atlantic that signed The Format and attempted to force them into the same situation. Thankfully they gladly left and in turn made a song about it. Just listen to “The Compromise” on their latest, Dog Problems (my favorite album of 2006), and you’ll get a pretty good picture of what seems to have happened to The Academy Is…. Fortunately for them, not all is lost, they’re well on their way to pop-stardom, they’ve just been processed by the machine that is the recording industry.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Upcoming for this Week

Coming out tomorrow (4/3/2007) is Santi from The Academy Is. I’m planning on reviewing this as usual, by Friday. I’ll be posting again to remind everyone, but next week Bright Eyes – Cassadaga will be out on Tuesday. Also, please head on over to my tech blog, and check out my recent entries (a whopping seven, I think in two days).

Sunday, April 1, 2007

The Moog with The Crash Moderns, Live

I said that I intended to blog some of the shows that I go to, and tonight was the first one that I’ve been to since then. Tonight, March 31 The Moog played with The Crash Moderns at The Hawks Nest (a super small venue) at my school, The University of Hartford.

The Crash Modern was up first. They played five songs, and from what I heard on their myspace prior to the show, the songs were instantly recognizable. They’ve got a pretty bland pop-punk sound, but they put on a fairly good live show. I suppose I must have liked them a sufficient amount because I ended up buying their five song EP at the end of the night. I talked to them afterwards for a few minutes and they were super thankful that I was buying their CD and thanked me for coming out.

This past week I checked them out on myspace (as I’ve already eluded to) and I really wasn’t very interested in them, but I decided that I’d go because it’s always enjoyable to see live music. I’ve got to say, though, that they were a lot better live than I was expecting. It’s clear that they are well rehearsed and their music was tight. One of the biggest drawbacks that I noticed, from their recordings was their lead singers voice. However, throughout the course of their set, his voice fit perfectly with their energetic live style.

The main attraction of the night was The Moog, who came all the way from Budapest, Hungary. They were also very good live. I’d say that from what I heard prior to the show, that I was even less interested in them than I was with The Crash Moderns, but after the show I was much more impressed with them. Their first single, “I Like You” is catchy and fun, both recorded (which can be found on their myspace) and live. Like their counterparts they were also very well rehearsed and sounded tight. The biggest drawback of their set was their lead singer. It was not that his vocals were lacking live, but it was his performance. As much as I tend to poke fun at lead singers with gimmicks, he could have used one. While he was singing he stood complacently, and while he was not, he also stood blankly.

Overall I enjoyed the show, especially the fact that it was free. If I had a bit more money on me I might have also opted to buy The Moog’s CD although, I’ve got to say it was a little bit pricey ($13 for 10 tracks).

I took a plethora of pictures of The Moog and videos of a bunch of their songs, which you’ll find below. I encourage you to check out both bands, and I wholeheartedly suggest The Moog. After seeing them live, I’ve grown an appreciation for what I had heard from them before.

I made The Crash Moderns sign their EP

All videos should be working!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Daphne Loves Derby – Good Night, Witness Light

Band: Daphne Loves Derby
Album: Good Night, Witness Light
Release Date: March 27, 2007
Label: Outlook Music

As enjoyable as young bands are, with their whit about broken relationships, there comes a time in the life of every band, when they are expected to mature. The real challenge for Daphne Loves Derby is to not only grow and mature their sound, but they having the daunting task of escaping the umbrella of Death Cab for Cutie, to whom they are often referenced. I might be ironic if I were to say that Good Night, Witness Light, marks the beginning of a mature era for this remarkably young band, but I believe in all honesty that this is an important step forward.

The opening track “Are Two Chords Enough, Dear?” has an interesting and slightly eerie sound to it. It’s intentional pacing and progression marks the first hint of maturity to be found on the album. It builds slowly, but fades prematurely and in comes “Stranger, You and I.” “Stranger” is immediately lovable as it showcases Kenny Choi’s soft and honest voice. The airy gentle rock creates an uplifting an encouraging sound, not only for the listener but also for the album.

The CD is, unfortunately, not without its flaws. “No One is Convinced” and “Miniature Christmas Tree” are the pop-rock black sheep of the album. While they are both enjoyable, essentially pop-rock done right, they represent a genre that is fading and stale. Together, they detract from the overall intelligent sound of the album, which is an important progression for Daphne Loves Derby.

While on the subject of sore thumbs, it would be regrettable to leave out “Marching Band Intro,” which is precisely what the title suggests. The song is merely a marching band cadence, which builds towards and runs perfectly into “That’s Our Hero Shot.” This song continues the marching band sound, adding in horns that you’ve probably heard at a high school football game. Soon, however, the marching band is whisked out of the stands and they are replaced by the true soul of “Hero Shot.” This conscientious tune, like many other tracks here tackles issues of change and progression, oddly representative of the CD.

“Cue the Sun” is a slow acoustic ballad that represents the softer side of the album. It is most reminiscent of their first EP. “Love and Mercy” showcases Jason Call’s skills on the bass as it opens with a driving bass line. “Hello Color Red” is overall very peppy and sunny and thus very endearing.

Finally “How’s It Going To End?” finishes the release on virtually the same pensive and meaningful note that “Are Two Chords Enough, Dear?” began it with. Good Night, Witness Light is certainly a worthwhile listen if you’ve been a fan of Daphne Loves Derby in the past or if you’ve been in search of some heartwarming melodic rock lately. They haven’t quite yet reached their full potential, but they’ve certainly got their foot in the door and I look forward to hearing more from them as they continue to mature and refine their sound.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

What to Expect this Week for 3/27 Releases

This week I plan on reviewing Daphne Loves Derby’s latest Good Night, Witness Light, which hit the shelves today. It’s been floating around the Internet for about a month now, but today is it’s official release date. As usual (well not quite as of late) you can expect the review to be posted by Friday. Also, feel free to head on over to Bêtise and check out my latest posts. Enjoy!

Friday, March 23, 2007

Antarctica Takes It! – The Penguin League

Band: Antarctica Takes It
Album: The Penguin League
Release Date: 2006
Label: None/DIY

Just reading the brief album stats (above) will give you a hint as to the nature of this release, if you can even call it that. This, however, doesn’t give the slightest hint about just how charming and invigorating the music from Antarctica Takes It! is. The album can’t be found at any retail outlets, in fact, as far as I can tell, mailing the band $6 in an envelope is the only way to get it. And it isn’t a professionally manufactured CD and case by any means; it is basically just a CD-R. The sound quality too, tells the story of a DIY band. The music is incredibly lo-fi, and the band even states on their myspace, that as they record their next CD “this time we're using a microphone.” I can’t be sure if this is an exaggeration or what, but it’s clear, though, that the production values here are not quite studio quality. I can say though, what this release lacks in audio quality, it makes up for in personality.

The CD is only ten tracks long, and clocks in at just less than 30 minutes. The longest track and perhaps one of the best is the second to last, “Antarctica,” and it is hardly more than 4 minutes. The album opens up with “I’m No Lover,” which, like the rest of the CD, is filled with lyrical gems, both clever and entertaining. The first words you’ll hear out of Dylan McKeever, the lead singer, are “I'm not a lover, I'm a fighter and I would burn your house down.” As the album progresses, there is no lack of this lyrical style, that is both humorous and meaningful.

While I don’t have a gripe with a single song on this album, I do have three favorites. The first, “Circuits” features harmonizing vocals, and interesting mix of instruments. The unique mix of chimes and harmonica create a light airy atmosphere for the song. My particular favorite, “Fog Song” has a slower, more brooding sound to it, but it is equally lovable and endearing. It has a distinctive marching pace, which is kept throughout by a combination of snare as well as piano and a variety of strings.

Finally, “Antarctica” makes it to my list of most memorable tracks. “Antarctica” is easily described as the album’s climax, while the somber “Goodbye” is more of a polite send off. “Antarctica” manages to cram into just 4:12 a variety of styles that make for a rich musical experience.

It seems as if the chief complaint about this release is the low quality of the recording. However, if you can set aside any instances of audiophilia, you will find a delightful and sincere release that is both interesting and easy to listen to. I am very excited to hear what is coming next from Antarctica Takes It!, and I hope after reading this, and hearing the album, that you are too.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Upcoming for Release Week 3/20

This week is basically slim-pickin’s for releases that I’m interested in. I saw Good Charlotte’s latest is out today, but I’m not even going to bother with that. I’ve given some thought to reviewing Person Pitch from Panda Bear, but after a first listen, I really don’t have too much to say about it. So, unless it grows on me at least to the point that I have something to say, I don’t suspect I’ll be reviewing that. Instead, I’ve been giving thought to doing my first back review. If I do, it’ll most likely be Antarctica Takes It! – The Penguin League, which I first discovered a few months ago, and have since grown to love it. So, if that’s the review I choose to do, you’ll get to hear exactly what I love about it.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Sherwood - A Different Light

Band: Sherwood
Album: A Different Light
Release Date: 3/12/07
Label: Myspace Records

Sherwood’s latest offering, A Different Light, their first on Myspace Records, is like their past efforts, catchy and fun. However, their sound has not matured, they’ve only opted for a more electronic sound, adding a keyboardist. It is nice to see, however, that they continue to put out music that is uplifting and enjoyable. Even when they lament about relationship troubles (and other typical pop-punk topics) they keep things happy and airy.

The CD starts off with “Song In My Head.” It begins slowly, but soon kicks off into an energized pop-punk ballad. This sets the stage for virtually the entire CD, only once does the pace slowdown. The next song, “The Best In Me” is electric infused power pop, chockfull of lovable hooks and rhymes. These songs, like the rest of the album, opt for extended fades and reverb. This is one of the few changes from their previous sound. In a way I might even say that Lou Giordano (the producer who has also worked with Sunny Day Real Estate) has almost over produced the album. It doesn’t stand solely on the musicianship of the band, but partially on a foundation of synthesizers.

The third track, “Middle of the Night” is a rerecord, originally found on the Summer EP, which was released digitally, at This song has remained the same, except for the addition of about 10 seconds of crowd noise-like fluff tacked on in the beginning. This lack of change, however, is not a bad thing. The song is as it should be, energetic, and is certainly single material.

As the CD continues, there isn’t much change musically, at all. Almost all of the songs rely on the driving beat of drummer Joe Greenetz. His steady pace sets the stage for almost all of the songs. Just about the only slowdown on the disc some from the sixth song, “Ally Cat,” which to me sounds a lot like “Such Great Heights,” from The Postal Service, at times. It is, however, one of the more memorable and clever songs offered here.

The CD is certainly very enjoyable, but lacks any progression or change. All of the songs seem very similar to each other, and there is hardly any development. After only the first few tracks, I found it became hard to find new ways to describe songs. There is nothing wrong, with this consistent (if not monotonous) approach to creating music, but it just seems to lose its power. Like their previous works, A Different Light seems like it is best suited for summer listening. I anticipate that I’ll be listening to this album again, perhaps on a beach trip, flying down the highway with the windows down. Its energetic, vivacious sound of this release makes it perfect for listening to during the equally pleasant summer months.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

TEN Hiatus, I’m Slacking

I’ve been putting off getting to work on reviewing “A Different Light” so far this week. I’ve listened to the album a few times already; I just don’t feel like sitting down to write out my reactions and to get it all formulated into a cohesive review. Instead, I’ve been listening a lot to The Early November. And, sadly, yesterday posted the band’s note to their fans, saying that they were going on an indefinite hiatus.

That was actually very disappointing news to me. Just recently, did an interview with the band, where they talked about all of the writing that Ace (the band’s front man and song writer) had been doing. They explained that he had enough material written for several full LP’s and of course, I was excited. But, unfortunately, now, they’re calling it quits. I have to say; I’ve been a fan for quite a while. I was really lured in by their emo sound way back on “For All of This,” and since then they’ve been maturing, and I’ve enjoyed just about everything that they’ve done. Especially, 2006’s “The Mother, The Mechanic, and The Path,” which was an epic three disc undertaking with 46 tracks. There was a ton of speculation that TEN would be spreading themselves too thin, but when I first got to listen, I couldn’t disagree more. While The Path, was a bit different, seeing as it was mostly narrated with alternating musical interludes, it was overall very enjoyable. The story that it told, directly, was also mirrored in the lyrics and musical styles of the preceding CDs, The Mother and The Mechanic.

The Mechanic, which opens the three disc set, is much more of a rock CD, as opposed to the slower more melodic style of The Mother. Both, however, showcase the musicianship of The Early November and the writing talents of Ace Enders. Both CDs, which have 11 tracks each, plus “5 Years” which was a bonus track for The Mechanic, just did not disappoint me. While I had favorites within the 23 tracks, I never find myself skipping over a single song.

So, what was supposed to just be a short entry explaining that I might be a little bit late with this weeks review, has turned into a pretty long lament about TEN. I’m hoping to get to see them on their last tour. I’d most likely try to go see them on April 12, when I’m back up at school; they’re playing at Toad’s Place in New Haven, CT. I just have to find someone else who wants to go, and who can drive. I’m also planning on seeing Circa Survive with As Tall As Lions, Envy on the Coast, and Cute Is What We Aim For, when they play in West Hartford. Also, hopefully, if I get to these shows, I’ll do a short write-up on my feelings about the show as a whole and the individual sets.

I expect that once I’m back up at school, I’ll get down to work and write the Sherwood review, and pick out what I’ll be doing for next week.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Upcoming for Release Week 3/13

This week you can expect to see a review for “A Different Light” by Sherwood, which will be hitting stores this Tuesday, March 13. The review will be up no later than Friday, but you can expect it to be posted before that. As always I hope you’ve been enjoying the write-ups I’ve been doing. Check out the past few from Relient K, Bright Eyes, and The Higher. Also, please head over to Bêtise, which should be updating on a near-daily basis.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Relient K - Five Score and Seven Years Ago

Band: Relient K
Album: Five Score and Seven Years Ago
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Label: Gotee/Capitol

“Five Score and Seven Years Ago” is a worthwhile follow up to “mmhmm.” Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much growth since the 2004 release. However, what’s been characteristic of Relient K in the past isn’t lost. As always, the lyrics are fairly clever, and tinged with some humor. Matt Thiessen has his way with words, although they’re by no means, brilliant or groundbreaking.

The CD starts out with some good old vocal percussion and harmonizing in “Plead the Fifth,” which offers up a brief foray into the assassination President Lincoln. Notice, also, the connection to Lincoln in the title of the release, only it is “Five Score,” rather than four score. My only question here is what exactly is Thiessen implying with the line, “An impersonator died?” I’d have to ask him to back off of a great president.

“Come Right Out and Say it” marks the beginning of the return to the Relient K style. It’s a power pop ballad, pleading for honesty in a relationship. “Why don't you come right out and say it? / Even if the words are probably gonna hurt.” However, songs about relationships aren’t the only aces up Relient K’s collective sleeve. “I Need You” is a slightly harder (and by harder I mean, hardly at all) song about God. This song illustrates a feeling of being cornered and seeking strength in God. “You say you've heard my prayers, you've read my words that are on the beach.”

It seems that after this song, the stage for the CD has been set. The plan is to mix generic love songs, with a few songs about God; after all, they are a Christian-rock band. The songs that follow, “The Best Thing” and “Forgiven” are just what you would expect from Relient K, the same poppy sound and sappy love lyrics and praise for the Lord.

I’m not sure if Thiessen thinks that he will escape the cliché of love songs, if he admits to doing it, but I’ll be the first to say that it’s just not working out. In “Must Have Done Something Wrong” Thiessen explains, “And I know that it’s so cliché / To tell you that everyday / Spent with you is the new best day of my life” It’s very true, it is cliché, so unless he intends to stick only to writing tired and outplayed love songs for the rest of his career, its about time to change it up a bit. Relient K lyrics, are snappy and clever, but by no means are they innovative or original. However, the band deserves some credit for this track. It’s pretty upbeat and has a sort of fun energy to it. I would not be surprised if this is the first single to come from this release.

The CD trudges on, just as the above pattern suggests. Until track eleven there’s an about even mix of love songs and songs with Christian undertones. However, the eleventh track, “Crayons Can Melt on us for all I Care,” comes totally unexpected. It’s brief and clever, and wildly humorous, at least I thought so.

“Five Score and Seven Years Ago” ends with “Deathbed” which is a monster of a storyteller, clocking in at just over 11 minutes. It tells the life story of a dying man. To it’s credit, it contains a variety of styles sewn together neatly with solid transitions. Finally, after a series of crescendos an instrumental interlude leads to the end of the song. It builds up and slowly trails off, and finally, the song culminates with vocals provided by both Jon Foreman and Thiessen. Unfortunately, Foreman’s contribution to this closing duet sounds forced and almost unnatural.

It is hard to fault Relient K for sticking to their guns and continuing with a style that they know well, but then again, it’s hard not fault them for not maturing. The chemistry is there, it is clear that they are a group of talented musicians who work well together. However, after two years, I would have hoped that their sound would have matured a bit, or at least that they said goodbye to their rigid formula of verse-chorus pop rock. If you’re looking for mmhmm part two, you’ll be satisfied with “Five Score,” however, if you’ve been hoping for Relient K’s “Deja Entendu” you won’t even find a glimmer of it here.

As a note, this CD is currently streaming, in its entirety, excluding the final song, “Deathbed,” on the band’s myspace.

Bright Eyes - Four Winds EP

Band: Bright Eyes
Album: Four Winds EP
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Label: Saddle Creek

The “Four Winds” EP is the precursor to the upcoming Cassadaga, which is set for release April 10. You can look forward to that review next month. Anyways, this six track EP has one song from the upcoming full-length and five b-sides. It is reassuring, that these five tracks that didn’t quite make the cut, are really quite enjoyable.

The first track, also the title track, “Four Winds,” provides a preview of what is to come from Cassadaga. It’s got the makings of a Conor Oberst protest song, minus any direct reference to our commander in chief. Several lines, in the song make it obvious, as Oberst calls up the three major holy books, “The Bible's blind, the Torah's deaf, the Qu'ran's mute / If you learn them all together you get close to the truth.” Along the other tracks on the EP “Four Winds” has a country twang to it, that sounds vaguely like “Santa Clause is Coming to Town” as the song begins.

The second track, and my personal favorite, “Reinvent the Wheel,” continues along the lines of a country or American sound, but is more of a showcase of Oberst’s ability to create a song with a pop sound, without alienating himself. There is certainly a case to be made that this song is an ode to Elliot Smith, who is one of Oberst’s influences. Next comes “Smoke Without Fire,” which unfortunately doesn’t have much of a compelling force at all, features brief vocals from the likes of M. Ward. It is however, characteristic of many Bright Eyes songs that have a very stripped down feeling to them.

“Stray Dog Freedom” is chockfull of coarse guitar riffs that sound plucked right from the 1970’s. This storyteller has even more of that wandering country feel to it and features Ben Kweller. “Cartoon Blues” is aptly named as the song is filled with a southern blues style. However, Oberst’s tortured voice just doesn’t fit the part. Lyrically, it lacks the fullness of “Four Winds” but provides a much more solid musical experience when compared to the vacant “Smoke Without Fire.”

The sixth and final track, “Tourist Trap,” provides a deliberate paced folk sound, but seems more like an empty shell of a song, almost unfinished. It is, however, becoming of the content of the song, this story paints a picture of an empty person who lacks vitality and can no longer feel at home.

Overall, the EP is worth your time. At first I found myself only enjoying the first two tracks, but soon I was enjoying the release as a whole. As I said before, this gets my hopes up for the up coming “Cassadaga.” If this is the collection of songs that didn’t make it, I hope that the full-length will be just bursting with favorites.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Some News

I'm not sure if you've heard or not, not that you would unless you read Hobb's blog, but Hobb will no longer be contributing here. He's got a lot on his plate as far as blogging goes, and the work that is expected of him, at several outlets, is continuously expanding. So, he won't be doing any posting around these parts. This doesn't mean, however, that you shouldn't check out what he has to say over at Taciturn Blog.

Also, this week look forward to a review of the "Four Winds EP" from Bright Eyes. I also hope you enjoyed my review of The Higher's latest, "On Fire," (check it out if you haven’t yet) as I hope you enjoy everything that you read here, and over at Bêtise. For the "Four Winds" review, I'm shooting for Friday evening, at the latest. If it doesn't get done earlier, I expect that I'll spend some of my train ride home, on Friday, working on it.

The Higher - On Fire

Band: The Higher
Album: On Fire
Release Date: March 6, 2007
Label: Epitaph

The Higher’s debut on Epitaph, “On Fire,” isn’t exactly what I would call a stellar performance. While catchy hooks abound, the sound of the album is not quite as cohesive as I would have expected. While I largely enjoyed their debut full-length, “Histrionics,” I just can’t say the same in this case.

The opening track, “Insurance” is exactly what I expected Fall Out Boy’s latest, “Infinity on High” to be. If "This Ain't A Scene, It’s an Arms Race" sounded like it might be at home among the likings of the Backstreet Boys, “Insurance” is definitely B-side material for NSYNC’s “Celebrity,” which featured one of their later hits, “Dirty Pop.”

“On Fire” partially marks a departure from the generic emo-rock of “Histrionics” to a electronic, pop-driven sound. “Guts” fits the barebones, music by numbers, style of verse-chorus-verse. “Rock My Body” is the first of three re-recorded songs from “Histrionics.” It remains virtually the same, with some introduction of dance beats. “Weapons Wired” is one of the stronger showings on this album. Again, like “Insurance” it offers up a poppy sound, but it’s done well. The song packs a little bit of a punch; with the focus more set on the guitar rather than synthesized beats. However, the new dance sound, isn’t maintained for the entirety of the release, which is one of the major disappointments.

The fifth track, “Histrionics” is the second re-record from their debut. It was by and far my favorite song from their 2005 work. It was short and catchy and has a heartfelt quality to it. Unfortunately, this re-record doesn't provide much worthwhile innovation; again it's more of an electronic remix. The song doesn't lose all of it's worth in my eyes, but it doesn't seem to have the same flow. One of it’s best aspects, for me, is the handclap, I don’t know how many times I’ll end up declaring my love for this quaint little addition, but I’m quite sure it’s one of my favorites.

“Movement” reminds me immediately of the 1999 hit “Slide” from The Goo Goo Dolls. However, once the song gets past this reminiscent introduction, it reveals that it has none of the lasting power of that hit. This track marks a point in this release, that starts to lose my interest and starts to betray the initial feeling of the album. Slowly the songs slow down and lose their dancability (I know that’s not a word, but you know what I mean by it). “On Fire” started out with a strong upbeat pop essence, but slowly this fades away and all that is left is run of the mill instrumentation and Seth Trotter’s flat vocals. “Can Anyone Really Love Young,” “Darkpop,” “DARE,” and “Our Movie Rules” all seem to fit in this category, in my eyes. “Darkpop” manages to keep up the beat a bit, but overall the song is forgettable.

Thankfully, “31 Floors” is full of repeatable and catchy hooks. I’d say its one of the last gems of the disc (maybe ‘gem’ is too much, cubic zirconium might be more fitting). Either way, it’s got a decent amount going for it, and provides some incentive to make it to the end of the CD. Finally, after “Our Movie Rules” comes the Patrick Stump remix of “Pace Yourself.” This is track closes the disc, and is the final adaptation from “Histrionics.” It is, however, slightly ironic, seeing as the main lyric says that, “you can’t write the same song over again,” even though The Higher, or perhaps the folks over at Epitaph, saw it fit to re-record three old tracks.

After just less than one minute of silence, at the end of “Pace Yourself,” comes the hidden track of the album. I think I’ve mentioned before, that I am really not much of a fan of this practice. I just don’t care that much about part of a song, that a band decided didn’t warrant it’s own track. Plus, when I’m listening to music while doing something else; it’s just annoying when there’s undue silence. Anyways, the hidden track is no more interesting than any other track on the CD and it’s absolutely drenched with obvious and partially obnoxious sexual references, not exactly a lyrical jewel.

Overall, this isn’t much of a follow up to the enjoyable “Histrionics.” As the CD began I was actually kind of excited to see where they would go with their new dance-pop sound. Unfortunately, by about halfway through the disc it became apparent that it wasn’t a full shift and they were stuck right back in the rut of their generic, almost sub-par, sound. I would say that this CD isn’t for either, fans of The [old] Higher, or for those in love with the dance sounds of bands like Head Automatica or Panic! At the Disco, it does, however, a few songs worthy of your time.