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, BĂȘtise is switching over to Technosyncratic. You’ll be able to find that at http://www.technosyncraticblog.blogspot.com. 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).