Saturday, February 24, 2007

Roark - Break of Day

Band: Roark
Album: Break of Day
Release Date: February 20, 2007
Label: Love Minus Zero

Break of Day grew on me very quickly. It’s got an infectious feel-good vibe that makes it a lot of fun to listen to, even at its slower points. It’s one of those CDs that, for me, seems to do everything I want it to. I have a habit of wanting songs to go in certain directions, and unfortunately, I get disappointed quite a bit. However, it’s that much better when amongst the disappointment, one CD seems to get everything right. The CD isn’t without its slowdowns but it keeps it’s pace nicely by balancing them out with upbeat songs, and never slowing down for too long.

The CD opens with “Never Felt So Lucky,” it sets the stage for the acoustic theme of the disc. However, It’s not bland by any means. The acoustic guitar isn’t left by itself, instead it’s backed, often by full band or a few accompanying instruments. The next track, “Into Pieces”, instantly became one of my favorites. The electric lead is layered on top of the acoustic rhythm adds a complexity that isn’t exactly prevalent in the typical acoustic music you find these days.

Moving on to “Movin’ On,” (get it haha) I was greeted again by a song that quickly became one of my favorites. I enjoy the use of organ throughout the song. The wine of the electric guitar creates the emotional theme of the song. The song has a variety of ups and downs; it comes to a near halt, which further adds to that emotional feeling. Next comes “Today (Perfect),” it starts with a slow deliberate pace from the piano. However, a few crescendos give the song more depth and keep it from remaining too bland or repetitive. Plus, the harmony of the vocals shows off Roark’s vocal talents.

“Letters Listen” is one of the songs on the CD that seems to just what I wanted it to. It picks up and tapers off, just where I expected. As the song progresses, there is an introduction of vocal beats. They are one of the reasons I love music from Sufjan Stevens and Anathallo, but here, they are presented in a more typical style of music, which would be more universally appealing. “Brighter Side” is by no means a fast song. But, it picks the pace of the album back up, just when it could have become boring.

As much as I am a fan of this CD overall, “Broken Smiles” is where I start to lose interest. Again, it brings the pace of the release back down. The vocal highs of the song, however, are done exceptionally well; they are done without seeming forced or even falsetto. Fortunately, there is some hope; the songs that follow are by no means uninteresting. “Song From The TV” makes use of one of the few gimmicks that I can actually tolerate, tuning. While here, it is clearly from a TV, another example can be found in the beginning of “There’s A Bully in the Park and A Hero in My Baseball Bat” from The Morning Of, who recently re-released their EP, which by the way I would recommend. “All Of The Riches” is another song that loses my interest. Thankfully, “Ask Myself” is one of my favorites that sneaks in at the end. The rim tap is one way of keeping the beat that I’m a fan of. But, it doesn’t go without competition. Later in the song, the beat is kept by handclap. While I mentioned it, I didn’t make it terribly apparent in my previous review, but I’m a sucker for a clapped beat.

Finally, “Take It Slow” provides the summation of the album. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s certainly not un-enjoyable. Perhaps, the best part of it is the fact that it doesn’t end in a gimmicky way. I can’t explain how much gimmicks in music turn me off. It’s not particularly enjoyable, and it’s rather pointless. Also, I’m not a fan of the 15-minute songs with 8 minutes of silence between the last and ‘hidden’ tracks, but that’s a rant for another time.

Overall, I’m very happy with this release. At times, I find myself being reminded of music from artists like The Allman Brothers Band. I think it is certainly a very likable album, and I won’t be surprised if Roark gains some popularity for it.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Fall Out Boy – Infinity on High

Fall Out Boy
Infinity on High
Release Date: February 6, 2007
Record Label: Island

First, I must concede, I went into this review with a bit of prejudice. I thought for sure, that it would be terrible. But, I asked myself, ‘What was this bias based on?’ Although, partially grudgingly, I do admit (sometimes) that I’m a fan of Evening Out with Your Girlfriend and most of Take This to Your Grave, and even a few tracks on From Under The Cork Tree.

So, then, why was I so against Infinity on High, before I ever heard it? It’s solely the fault of “This Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race.” It, is the perfect example of getting big and selling out, which is what I assumed Infinity on High would be, as a whole. Well, I’m pleased to note that it might be the most out of place song on the disc.

So, Infinity on High opens up with “Thriller” but more importantly, (or annoyingly) Jay-Z hyping the album. Why? Well I’ll tell you why (or at least how I see it) someone at Island thought it’d be a good idea. With the stardom achieved by Fall Out Boy, it is the next logical step in milking an act for all it’s worth. There is absolutely no point; there is very little (if any) influence from Jay-Z or hip-hop in general (from what I can tell) in this release. Anyways, the song slowly begins a build to what I was hoping to be an energetic start to Fall Out Boy’s fourth full-length release. The song ends with a hearty drum pounding and a feedback fade into "The Take Over, The Break’s Over” oh that and the summation of Jay-Z’s shout-outs. “The Take Over, The Break’s Over” sports just about what you would expect from a Fall Out Boy album. There’s a bit on piano added in throughout, which fits well. It does an effective job of complimenting the drive of the track.

Next, the entire feel, thus far, of the album, is interrupted by “This Ain't A Scene, It's An Arms Race.” The song is fully reminiscent of the boy band stylings of The Backstreet Boys. Even when the song launches into its full capacity, the consistent background vocals keep the pop sound going. “I'm Like A Lawyer With The Way I'm Always Trying To Get You Off (Me & You)” brings the first slowdown of the album. This track provides a slower and more deliberate beat and pace.

A slight pickup comes from “Hum Hallelujah.” The steady beat provides come toe-tapping action. At the first chorus the song develops into a full two-step dance number. I would, however, been quite satisfied if the choral “Hallelujahs” had been left out. “Golden” starts off with a melancholic piano melody. This is perhaps my least favorite track on the album (not including the BSB cover). I’ve never been a huge fan of Patrick Stump’s vocal style, and this stripped down song focuses, a lot, on it. Fortunately, it’s rather short, but what makes matters worse is it’s terrible ending. It is too abrupt and ruins the flow that the album was gaining. “Thnks Fr Th Mmrs” brings one of the most interesting introductions in the release. The horns provide a much different sound, which doesn’t seem too out of place. Unfortunately, they fall to the wayside nearly immediately, as the song picks up and they are all but concealed. It also carries a bit of a My Chemical Romance sound.

“Don't You Know Who I Think I Am?” intros with handclaps and doesn’t disappoint. It maintains the energy of a pop-punk anthem and provides for a fun and catchy sing-a-long. As this song came to its energetic end, it left me wanting more. However, “The (After) Life Of The Party” provides yet another slowdown, just as my hopes for energy were peaking. As the song picks up at first it provided me with a glimmer of hope but didn’t waste time in slowing right back down.

“The Carpal Tunnel Of Love” has a slight Alkaline Trio-esque sound at first but launches into what most Fall Out Boy fans would expect. The screaming at the end of the song seems out of place and frankly, uncalled for. “Bang The Doldrums” and “Fame < Infamy” continue with the typical Fall Out Boy sound and pop-punk energy. “You're Crashing, But You're No Wave” doesn’t carry the energy of the previous few songs, but has a drive of its own. It also provides a throwback to the storytelling elements found in TTTYG. The second choral chant, to be found on Infinity on High, comes in the final minute of the track. Fortunately, it seemed, to me, to fit a lot better than the first in “Hum Hallelujah.”

The album comes to its end with track 14 “I’ve Got All This Ringing In My Ears And None On My Fingers.” The song begins with powerful horns and driving piano rock. The song slowly builds to what I was hoping would be a strong and prevailing ending, however, that was not the case. The song slows right back down, but has the qualities you might look for in a track to wrap up an album with a variety of ups and downs.

Finally, the album comes to a close with applause and the sounds of a record spinning and a computerized voice instructing me to “Press Repeat.” This was just another thing to add to the “Little Things that Annoy Me about Infinity on High” list. Who wants a cheesy ending? Just play the last note, and cut the track. Overall, I am sure that any Fall Out Boy fan will find what they were looking for with this release. It was not the complete departure from their style that I was expecting. And for that, I believe it lives up to its predecessors. Although I don’t think I’ll be listening to it much, ever again, I feel like my time spent with it was worthwhile.

The Onset

Not much will be found in this post that you can't surmise from About Audiosyncratic to the right, but I felt it necessary to get one post up. Basically the idea is music, and our take on it. We love to bitch about it amongst ourselves, so now it is here for you to check out. We're mostly going to be covering Indie, Emo, and Punk but we can't promise there won't be some outliers. The plan is to each have one review per week, we'll see how that goes. We hope that you enjoy our take on your music!

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