Review: The Starting Line – Based on a True Story

The Starting Line - Based on a True Story

Okay, so let’s start with what we know:

  1. I’m a huge pop-punk kid. It’s the musical style I started listening to back in the day with MxPx and Blink-182. As much as musical purists will complain and moan, it’s the truth, and it’s my roots.
  2. I have been a pretty big fan of The Starting Line from their We the People Sessions back a few years now; however, everyone knows I was let down by their first full-length (Say It Like You Mean It) because I loathed some of the production by Mark Trombino.

I know, I know, so many people disagree with me on that one – but this is my vindication. The Starting Line return May 10th with their new full-length, Based on a True Story, produced by Tim O’Heir – and after hearing this album, it makes me bitter to think how the band’s last album may have sounded without Trombino on the dials. Yet, it makes me incredibly happy to finally have a CD that maximizes everything I’ve wanted this band to be for the past 4 years.

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Review: Days Away – Mapping an Invisible World

Days Away - Mapping an Invisible World

This album was a long time coming.

It has been a long hard struggle to get this album out into the hands of the fans. This is despite it being produced beautifully by Neal Avron (Yellowcard, Fall Out Boy, Everclear), despite the band being fronted by one of the most vocally talented front men in the music scene, and despite the album being one of the best I’ve heard all year (if not the past few years). Apparently the problem with greatness is that no one appreciates it in it’s time.

Combining the pop-sensibility of Coldplay with the oldies jam sound of Simon and Garfunkle, Days Away have come into a sound with the potential to last through the ages. This album, in my opinion, should be a staple in everyone’s collection. Despite what genre you find yourself leaning towards – this is one of those bands you can appreciate for the pure talent and beauty in their music. Do not be afraid to try something a little different, and outside of your comfort zone – because the journey you will take in Mapping and Invisible World is a trip unlike you have experienced before.

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Review: Copeland – In Motion

Copeland - In Motion

Growing up in the suburbs of Oregon I spent most of my youth outside entertaining my hyperactive mind with all sorts of daily activities. I remember spending countless hours running through grass fields and spinning around in circles staring straight up towards all the spiral-pouring raindrops. Copeland’s new full-length album, In Motion, brings to head all of these nostalgic thoughts as their sonic wave invades my speakers. (Cheesy lines are all I have sometimes ..)

Being a huge fan of the band’s last album and their cover’s EP: there was more than a little anticipation running through my blood. Remarkably, I was not let down by the perfect combination of their full-length’s slower melodic styled songs and their EP’s slightly edgier rock-pop songs. It seems that only a few weeks ago all of us on the website were debating which bands have what it takes to take on a sort of “iconic” status later in our lives, years from now when all of us are old and grey. The irony is how quickly we may have just been answered …

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Review: The Academy Is … – Almost Here

The Academy Is… - Almost Here

Everyone knows that I have been a huge Bill Beckett (lead singer / ex-Remember Maine) fan for years. We also all know that I am a sucker for clever lyrics, fast-paced beats, and catchy choruses, right? So, is it that hard to assume that I am going to be in love with the amalgam of the two? You are going to get exactly that — pure-unadulterated-love.

I will start out my forthcoming review by saying: if you are only judging this band by their first EP, throw out your preconceptions and don’t assume you know a fucking thing about this band. The album is an intelligent mix of pop, folk, and rock – all mixed together with the soothing vocals and lyrical styling of one of the most talented front-men in the scene. The hype has been bleeding from this band since the moment they were conceived (yah, I know I didn’t help much with that one), and I was always afraid that when the band finally released an album they would never be able to live up to the expectations of others (and of those I put upon them). After pushing play for the first time on this disc, I knew that I had underestimated the band from the get go – they were not only deserving of all the hype – they proceeded to construct an album that is a huge middle finger to all the critics. They took the stereotypes that their first EP had brought from critics, turned them on their head, and created an album full of uniqueness and originality that can only be seen as a testament to commitment.

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Review: Butch Walker – Letters

Butch Walker - Letters

When does music stop being just notes and chords and transcend into the physical world as a material life form? It takes unimaginable skill to breathe such life into songs that they take on a living function of their own. Say what you will, but not all music is created to be impossible to decipher: not all guitar parts are written to be the hardest riffs to emulate, not all lyrics are written to conceal hidden agendas and meanings, and not all songs are fashioned to be so enigmatic that they require Harvard level IQs in order to be understood. At what point did this become the level for which we judged music? Where in the evolution of song did we forget about emotion and start judging based upon song titles? Who became king and declared that if the song doesn’t involve an obscure nihilist reference that it is not worthy of our ears? Where is the document that states the rules of music? Because, if inside your head you have such a document by which you judge music: fucking burn it. The first song I ever learned to play on the guitar due to its insane simplicity was “Yesterday” by The Beatles. It is still, in my opinion, one of the greatest songs of all time. Pop music caught a bad wind when “performers” took front stage and “artists” fell to the back. And pop music began a downward ascension amongst some listeners when those who sang the songs were not those who wrote them, when dance numbers became more intricate than the content, and finally, when an image was created and sold before the music.

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Review: Say Anything – … is a Real Boy

Say Anything - ... is a Real Boy

There is a subtle irony that those humble artists and songwriters who would consider themselves of average intellectual “musical” capacity are usually those who provide the most genius and musical evolutionary leaps in their work. Those forefathers (names such as Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, John Lennon and Paul McCartney come to mind), were able to capture an attitude and honesty of a generation and its environmental surroundings, and bottle this into a musical vessel that will transcend the tests of time. Please return your seat backs and tray tables to their full and upright positions – a similar musical actualization may have just taken place right in front of our very eyes. The hyperbole found herein is in no way supposed to be taken as an act of “hype,” but instead should be construed as my emotions and thoughts as best as I can seem to construct them into words.

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Review: Midtown – Forget What You Know

Midtown - Forget What You Know

In a music industry riddled with lineup changes, hit singles, record label grudges, and more bullshit than probably anyone is truly aware of — Midtown are still the same four guys that brought forth their debut album from what seems like so many years ago. A few years have now passed, and the trials and tribulations this band has endured goes above and beyond what any of you will ever know. Yes this band has remained, and they have pushed through the pressure that was thrown on them by the media, managers, labels, and critics alike – and yet, they stayed true and together as a band, and as friends. When they were dropped by a drowning record label (MCA Records) almost 2 years ago, it should have been the lowest point in the band’s career. They should have given up. Everyone surely expected them to. Many stood back and quietly smirked at the band’s misfortune and it was in this desperate time that the band proved to everyone just exactly where their hearts were. They didn’t see what had happened to them as a failure, or as a set back … they saw it as a blessing and as a calling to re-evaluate their music, and their lives.

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Review: Autopilot Off – Make a Sound

Autopilot Off - Make a Sound

The word, “finally,” come to mind when I think about this album. It seems like it has been a long time coming for this album to finally get out there to the public – was it worth the wait?

The album begins perfectly with the title track. The band has been most known for their fast-paced rock/punk sound, however, but you will soon find that they have so much more to offer through this album. The first thing I noticed was how lyrically different this band was than some of their peers. Via their ranging themes and basic song meanings you will find out they have so much more to offer than many give this band credit for.

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Review: Name Taken – Hold On

Name Taken - Hold On

Everything you thought you knew about this band, their music, and this genre is about to get tossed into the windmill and chopped to shreads. When an album begins with the line, “we will cheat you out of everything .. we will sell you who you are” – there is very little else that is needed to grab you by your throat and push you against the wall. The music beat pulses into your chest, your head expands and contracts with each riff and you can’t help but let your head rock to the music.

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Review: The Starting Line – Say It Like You Mean It

The Starting Line - Say it Like You Mean It

Let me start out by saying that I love The Starting Line and have loved all their previous releases (even the little known about We The People Sessions that DTR keeps under lock and key for whenever they need an ‘unreleased’ track) – and no matter what I may say in the next few paragraphs, this is a great CD — if you are a pop-punk fan at all — you will love the new TSL CD, I promise.

The album starts out with a tribute to Blink-182’s “Anthem Part II” — wait, just kidding, it just reminds me of how Blink’s TOYPAJ started. With that behind us, we start out with one of the best tracks on the album, “Up and Go” — does just that, it picks up and takes the listener on a ride through the ups and downs of the song. Great opener track. The second track on the album is a really good song, with good guitar lines, killer drums … and all that; my only beef is the lyrics. I have always loved Ken’s writing, and thought it was the best part of this band, but for a debut full length I find it funny that there is a song saying thanks to the fans. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome that they did it — but I mean, I could see Aerosmith doing something like that, not The Starting Line. Track 3 is the new “Leaving,” sounds good — if you liked the old one, you will like the new one. The next track is “Best Of Me” – it’s the best song on the album; hands down one of the best songs they have ever done.

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Review: Box Car Racer – Box Car Racer

Box Car Racer - Box Car Racer

So the anticipation is building up, inside each and everyone of you — the nice fellows of blink182 have decided to open up their souls, and attempt a side project. Tom Delonge along with Travis Barker, wrote all of the material. All the lyrics were written by DeLonge, and rounding out the band with David Kennedy on rhythm guitar and Anthony Celestino on bass. The sound really is something in it’s own — some blink fans may run and hide, some blink fans may consider this something above anything they have ever heard before .. but the truth of the matter is that this album rocks — hard.

Starting out the album with a lengthy intro to the first single, “I Feel So” — the radio/video version you have heard is not how the album version starts. The length of the intro almost leaves the anticipation too much to bear … then the familiar guitar strums, and drum beats take over the speakers, and you know you are in for a treat. The first two tracks on the album, “I Feel So” and “All Systems Go” (along with the later Elevator) — are by far the two most ‘radio friendly’ song’s on the album .. and for people that have only heard these two songs, they most likely assume that this is just a different version of Blink182 … they are very, very wrong. I get the feeling while listening to the first two songs, that these were written originally as possible blink182 songs (anthem pt2 era), but then by changing some of the musically arraignments around found a much better home with the new Box Car material.

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Interview: Midtown

Midtown

So, is it [the new album] going to be released on MCA? That has sort of been debated by a lot of different people.

Gabe: Yes.

Are you guys excited about that?

Tyler: Yeah, oh yeah.

Gabe: Yeah, we are excited we don’t have to do another record on Drive-Thru.

Hahah. Oh, shit, you guys don’t like Drive-Thru, or what?

Gabe and Tyler: Hate Drive-Thru.

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Review: Midtown – Living Well is the Best Revenge

Midtown - Living Well is the Best Revenge

Now, is this really even fair? I mean – am I allowed to review one of my all time favorite band’s albums and be objective about it? As I type this I am actually wearing one of my Midtown T-shirts. Uh, wait a minute – am I ever objective to begin with? HAH! Yeah right. This is supposed to be my opinion anyways .. screw being objective. Midtown – Living Well Is The Best Revenge: Best album of the year or biggest flop of all time? Let’s take a look:

Midtown seems to have started a tradition of releasing the first track on their albums as the first singles. Could they possibly live up to the huge shoes “Just Rock and Roll” (from their first album) left them to fill? A soft beep.. drums kick in.. guitar picks softly .. volume increase – and Gabe’s voice fills the speakers, it’s not long before we again see the triple vocal styling of front men Gabe, Tyler, and Heath. I’ll make it simple to explain this song, you will be forced to jump off of your bed faking air guitar slams, sing at the top of your lungs, and bounce around your room until your parents threaten to send you back to college. (Wow, I am 19 years old and I am playing the air-guitar? I’m a nerd. Of course I run a website as well .. so, you already knew that.) This song starts the album off with a bang, and you know exactly where the CD is going to take you from there — these guys haven’t lost anything from where they left off — they got better.

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