Say Anything – In Defense of the Genre

Say Anything
Say Anything

Artist: Say Anything
Album: In Defense of the Genre
Label: J Records
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: October 23rd, 2007

Overall: 9.0
Music: 8.5
Lyrics: 7.0
Production: 8.0

Techno-infused, lyrically blunt and bold, raw and un-tethered vocally styled, raging guitar-incorporated, keyboard-based, clearly dance-and-mosh-able—these phrases, despite their possible contrasts and obvious wide ranges, can easily describe a single band’s new album.

1989 romantic flick-named band Say Anything has, in past albums, delivered an overall and certainly not unheard of punk rock sound. Their clever, metaphorical lyrics and versatile vocalist were the main consistent elements positively highlighting this band as they slowly transitioned from an earlier punk pop-rooted sound to their more recent hard rock music. Their lack of other remarkable musical components was probably a contributing factor to the idea that Say Anything had yet to rise to the top of a highly competitive mainstream rock industry, even with their constant musical progression, tours with successful mainstream bands, and expanding fan base.

However, this multidimensional new album contains several new musical components, which, combined with this band’s unchanging spunk and slightly modified past musical trends, create an overall more distinguished sound than has ever been heard from Say Anything.

Whether or not a listener is to agree with the thought that “In Defense of the Genre”, Say Anything’s recently released twenty-six-song, two-disc album, conveys a more honed sound than previously, certain changes in sound are undeniable.

The most critical change between “…Is A Real Boy” and this latest addition to SA’s discography is the intense keyboard base of “In Defense of the Genre”, (a key example being the heavily keys-incorporated “The Church Channel”). The almost techno sound of similar tracks (robotic voices, unidentifiable-sourced beeps, considerable bass-infusion and all), and the harsh lyrics, raging vocals, violent guitar, and beat-maintaining drums Say Anything is known for, mesh to create a musical style unique to this band’s newest album.

Despite these advancements, Say Anything has, as is apparent, remained true to the few enduring traits that have been illuminated in the band’s ongoing life span. For one, frontman Max Bemis’s lyrics continue to detail his Jewish religious beliefs (or lack thereof), whether with subtle mentions or entire tracks devoted to them (“Died A Jew”), the same applying to references to his bipolar disorder and its effects on the band (“Sorry, Dudes. My Bad”). Religion and mental distress aside, Bemis’s lyrics remain sometimes bitter and constantly candid and clever, possibly to the extent of being obscene at some points. While his words are riveting, they are, even in Say Anything’s latest album, yet to become profound.

The voice that sings said lyrics, also belonging to Bemis, has persisted in its flexibility, ranging from rough, almost furious hard rock-esque vocal tones (“Skinny, Mean Man”) to calm, verging on serene sounds (“An Insult to The Dead”). The twenty-three outside vocalists and musicians featured on this album only enhance his wide-ranged vocals. Guest vocalists Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance, Hayley Williams of Paramore, Adam Lazzara of Taking Back Sunday, and Peter Yorn, are only a few of the many other notable singers and musicians featured on “In Defense of the Genre”.

The meshing of Say Anything’s former and newfound musical style featured on “In Defense of the Genre” was successfully carried out by this up and coming band—a sure feat, especially considering the album’s extended, twenty-six-song length. In most instances, the idea of “short and sweet” should be applied to artists seeking to produce albums over fourteen or fifteen songs, with the concern that songs with higher potential or quality will be swallowed up by more mediocre songs. However, in this instance, the phrase “short and sweet” needn’t be applied, as each of the twenty-six tracks is of high quality and exceeds full potential—so long as listeners have the patience to listen to each of them in turn. This is something that should be highly recommended to longstanding and new fans of Say Anything alike, or anyone interested in picking up on a surely soon- to-be hard-hitting band.

Track Listing
Disc 1
1. Skinny, Mean Man
2. No Soul
3. That Is Why
4. Surgically Removing The Tracking Device
5. This Is F***ing Ecstasy
6. The Church Channel
7. Shiksa (Girlfriend)
8. Baby Girl, I’m A Blur (MAIN)
9. Retarded In Love
10. People Like You Are Why People Like Me Exist

Disc 2
1. Spay Me
2. In Defense Of The Genre
3. The Truth Is, You Should Lie With Me
4. The Word You Wield
5. Vexed
6. About Falling
7. You’re The Wanker, If Anyone Is
8. Spores
9. We Killed It
10. Have At Thee!

Sleeping With Giants Tour – 10/24/07

October 24th, 2007—The 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. A high-ceilinged, cavernous room, equipped with the relatively small stage, ample floor space, and spacious balcony seating well-suited for the intimate big band shows the 9:30 Club is known for are all part of the setting visible to the plethora of young rock fans awaiting the headliners of the Sleeping with Giants Tour. It’s approximately 9:00, and after enjoying, and inevitably singing and dancing with and moshing to, the four other bands in the diverse lineup offered to fans on this tour (The Rocket Summer, Sherwood, Armor for Sleep, and the recently added Cobra Starship), the audience is restless, some migrating to the close by merch tables and others even daring to venture to the club’s sports bar.

But at the soft strum of a guitar, and the appearance of the five young men comprising band The Academy Is…,the crowd focused full attention on the stage, drawn to the rock’n’roll-rooted band like flies to a strong light.

Although only five years in the making, indie label Fueled By Ramen The Academy Is… has already made huge strides towards success in the alternative rock genre. Since switching labels in 2004 (after impressing FBR with self-titled EP “The Academy”), TAI has produced two well-received studio albums, in addition to touring with a slew of successful bands, including renowned pop punk band Fall Out Boy. TAI’s soft alternative sound is defined by frontman William Beckett’s serene, feminine vocals. The Sleeping With Giants tour marked their first headlining tour after revealing sophomore album “Santi”, and thus far, has been as successful as the band itself.
Needless to say, TAI’s rousing live performance and lively band members were more than enough to get fans yet again moving. Frontman William Beckett seemed to recognize the effectiveness of focusing more on performing for the audience than speaking to them. Generally quiet though he may have been, he had a very strong connection to the crowd, who he entertained with his constant movement and uniquely soft singing voice.

Beckett’s singing combined with the raw talent of band members Andy Mrotek, Mike Carden, Adam Siska, and recently recruited guitarist Michael Guy Chislett created a great live performance that matched if not trumped the sounds on their studio albums. Their wide-ranged set list contributed to the quality of their set. TAI played hits both off of debut full-length album, “Almost Here” and April 2007 release, “Santi”, many tracks of which hadn’t been performed live prior to the Sleeping With Giants tour. Starting with song “Same Blood” and wrapping up with “Everything We Had”, The Academy Is… put on a very worthwhile show that, along with the quality of the other four bands’ performances, produced a top notch show experience.

These “other four band’s performances” can hardly go without mention, as each contributed to the high quality of the show.

First to perform, and most recently added to the tour, was up and coming techno-incorporated band Cobra Starship. Having had their own sophomore album “¡Viva La Cobra!” released the prior day, Cobra Starship was on top of their game. Cobra completed captivated the audience throughout their notably brief performance, something probably attributed to frontman Gabe Saporta’s larger than life stage presence.

Sherwood, the most obscure band in the lineup, performed second, delivering a good quality though nondescript performance. Their alternative rock sound transferred well from the studio to the stage, Sherwood’s only hindering factor being their lack of strong connection with the audience.

Rather than continuing with Sherwood’s trend of slight indistinctness, The Rocket Summer put on a show comparable to that of Cobra Starship. The Rocket Summer’s performance was optimistic, fresh, and rejuvenating, administering a crowd-pleasing sound and completely rousing the audience with their guitar and piano-integrated sound.

Prior to The Academy Is… was Armor for Sleep, providing the darkest sound and lyrics of all of the artists in the lineup. Band members donned ironically in clothing that made them appear as though they were schoolboys, Armor For Sleep gave a very interesting performance, their set list including a wide range of songs off of all three of their albums.

Needless to say, what with its diverse and wholly positive lineup, The Academy Is…’s Sleeping With Giants tour is one to watch as it continues into November.

Sum 41 – Underclass Hero

Sum 41
Sum 41

Artist: Sum 41
Album: Underclass Hero
Label: Island Records
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: July 24th, 2007

Overall: 8.0
Music: 7.5
Lyrics: 8.5
Production: 7.0

Sum 41’s latest album, “Underclass Hero”, is “sound” proof that the quality of bands’ music doesn’t necessarily dwindle with passing years and changes in lineup. Following three well-received albums, “All Killer, No Filler” (2001), “Does This Look Infected?” (2002), and most recently, “Chuck” (2004), “Underclass Hero”, although perhaps not the most remarkable of Sum 41’s albums, certainly has its impressive elements. Former lead guitarist and backup vocalist Dave Baksh’s absence from this album, although somewhat noticeable in frontman Derek Whibley’s change in vocal style, hardly hinders its sound. In fact, the guitar throughout this album is especially notable, even without Baksh, Whibley producing loud, and passionate guitar riffs and meshing with Jocz’s aggressive drumming to create a generally hyper punk rock sound. Various portions of the album are, in fact, “All Killer, No Filler”-esque, while others display the more mature sound and lyrical content present in “Chuck”. This latest album has a loose political concept, some songs attacking the concept of government and elitism, and supporting the “underclass”, while others convey different, more personal themes. “Underclass Hero” as a whole is a very diverse album. While the songs it includes are mostly raucous and enthusiastic, a few slower songs are enclosed, such as “Best of Me”, “So Long Goodbye”, and “Look At Me”. A certain amount of piano seems to be enclosed on various tracks of this album, something not often heard in Sum 41’s music. The most unique element of this album, however, is not the addition of piano, but the inclusion of a song entirely comprised of French words, titled “Ma Poubelle” (translating to “My Waste” in English). Although it would be difficult to analyze the lyrics displayed throughout “Ma Poubelle”, the lyrics presented in the English tracks on this album, although not completely groundbreaking or wholly conceptual, are insightful and opinionated, rather than whiny and sorrowful, something that seems to be a trend in the rock genre as of late. These songs could have been better organized, however. Overall, “Underclass Hero” is an appealing album in sound and message, although, the album could do with the exclusion of a few of its less prominent, more mediocre-sounding songs. Some mentionable tracks off of this album include “No Apologies”, “This is Goodbye”, and “Walking Disaster”.

Track Listing
1. Underclass Hero
2. Walking Disaster
3. Speak of the Devil
4. Dear Father
5. Count Your Last Blessings
6. French Song
7. Carnival of Sins
8. The Jester
9. With Me
10. Long
11. King of Contradiction
12. Best of Me
13. Confusion and Frustration in Modern Times
14. So Long Goodbye
15. Look At Me

Dropout Year – Best Friends For Never

Dropout Year
Dropout Year

Artist: Dropout Year
Album: Best Friends for Never
Label: None
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: June 12th, 2007

Overall: 9.0
Music: 9.5
Lyrics: 8.5
Production: 9.0

Dropout Year, obscure though this Maryland-based band may be, is certainly comparable to or perhaps more appealing in sound than a great deal of mainstream bands of the rock genre. It would seem that being unsigned would in different aspects hinder a band in producing music. However, within their EP “Seven Unreturned Phone Calls” and even more so in their new EP “Best Friends for Never”, Dropout Year fails to hold anything back. Every track off of this new EP is singularly unique, each with a very defining sound, none sounding like the next. Since “Seven Unreturned Phone Calls”, lead vocalist Adam Henderson’s voice’s range, ability, and sound overall has matured and improved. The backup vocals along with Henderson’s create a unique harmony, especially apparent in the choruses of most of the tracks. Quality of the instrumentals is also very high, and also truly defines Dropout Year’s sound. The bass of this band meshes very well with the drums, and the guitar really branches out. It would be unfair to select only a couple of the eight tracks as notable, since each seemed to me to be really enjoyable and distinctive. This band seems to understand the concept that putting out a few exceptional tracks trumps producing several mediocre songs, as not one of the eight songs off of “Best Friends for Never” can be branded “mediocre”. The only typical aspect of Dropout Year’s music is their lyrical focus on mostly love, angst, and heartbreak, and even in this they have found a new way to express old feelings, with their both clever and poetic words. Overall production of this album is obviously great. To fans of Amber Pacific, bands similar, or of rock music in general, be sure to listen to Dropout Year’s new EP “Best Friends for Never”!

Track Listing
1. From Across The Room
2. As You Wish
3. It Wasn’t Over, It Still Isn’t Over
4. A Coming Of Age Story
5. Confetti
6. Biggest Fan
7. Hold On Tight
8. Best Friends For Never

Powerspace – The Kicks of Passion


Artist: Powerspace
Album: The Kicks of Passion
Label: Fueled By Ramen
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: July 31, 2007

Overall: 9.0
Music: 8.5
Lyrics: 8.5
Production: 9.5

Powerspace’s recently released album, The Kicks of Passion, is, for lack of a better word to describe a mostly indescribable band, phenomenal, especially considering this is the power pop band’s first full-length album. The album combines the upbeat, melodic qualities of pop and the modern-sounding quality of techno to create a refreshing, unique sound. Frontman Alec’s voice is wide-ranged as far as pitch, clear, and overall appealing. The instrumental music, guitar in particular, is very well written and meshes very well with the vocals and lyrics to create a very distinguishing sound. The optimistic sound that all of their songs, even those set out to express negative feelings, seem to carry, sets Powerspace apart from a lot of bands currently popular in the rock industry that seem to come off as more angst-filled. The lyrics on this album are clever and thoughtful, and thoroughly relatable and enjoyable. Some especially notable songs off of this album are “Amplifire”, “Prologue: Adam Beckett”, “Dancing in the Future”, and “Right On, Right Now.” I heavily recommend this album to anyone interested in a very unique and equally likeable sound!

Track Listing
1. Prologue: Adam Beckett
2. Quarantine My Heart (Baby)
3. Powerspace Snap Bracelet
4. Right On, Right Now
5. Amplifire
6. Be Aggressive
7. This Is Not What You Had Planned
8. Dancing In The Future
9. Choose Your Own Adventure
10. It Smells Like Electricity In Here
11. I Met My Best Friend In Prague
12. Sleep, Everyone…

Hawthorne Heights Interview – July 25th, 2007

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When the Cute is What We Aim For interview didn’t pull through, and I was given the opportunity to interview another band in place of CIWWAF, I knew immediately that I had to conduct one with Hawthorne Heights. They’re just overall a great band. So I interviewed Eron Bucciarelli, drummer of Hawthorne Heights. Obviously I didn’t have time for any research, so the questions are leaning towards generic, but Eron gave great answers, so enjoy!

Thanks to Ashley, Vienna, John, Bri, and especially Eron for all of your help!

Could you please tell me your name, a little bit about how you joined the band, and what role you have in the band?

My name is Eron Bucciarelli. I play drums for Hawthorne Heights. We formed in Dayton, Ohio in 2001, but we were originally called A Day in the Life. I was playing in other bands around Dayton, and I ran into the guys in A Day in the Life. At that point, only Micah and JT were in the band. Their drummer quit and they asked me to join because they knew I was more serious about playing music, so I joined. Then Casey joined after that, and finally Matt joined the band, and at that point we figured, “we have all of these second generation members of A Day in the Life, so why don’t we just start over”? New name, new songs, everything, and that’s what we did.

What were your goals as a band when you all first came together?

We wanted to play music on a professional level. Music is our passion. It’s what drives us every day. We’ve all been out there, we’ve all worked regular jobs, and we don’t like it. We love music, and it’s what we want to do. So when we formed, we tried to find people that had like-minded goals, and that’s the reason that we had so many member changes when we were A Day in the Life. It took awhile for us to figure out who was serious and was going to dedicate all of the necessary time into being a professional band. So once we found that group of people, we changed the name, and started over as Hawthorne Heights, and we’ve been together as the same group of people ever since.

So you were more fueled by your passion for music than for fame or anything of that sort?

Absolutely. I mean, if the fame came, that would be awesome, but it wasn’t something that we necessarily thought about and I remember thinking when our first record was released, we were hoping that we would sell ten or twenty thousand copies, just so we could tour nonstop and be a band and make a living off of it. Things just took off and our goals were definitely exceeded, so we were happy.

So you’re saying that you were really surprised that you got as famous as you did and that you were successful in that area, right?

Absolutely. We never really expected any of this and the fact that, you know, this is the second time that we’ve done Warped Tour and we’re on magazine covers and MTV and all of that stuff, it’s pretty insane to think about. It’s definitely a dream come true, and we’re grateful for every second of it that we get to do.

When did you first get signed to a record label, and did you have different ones to choose from, or was it just one in particular?

From the moment we changed our name to Hawthorne Heights (that was summer of 2003), we sought out to get on a record label, because up until then we had released records on our own, and we did alright, but the only way somebody could hear our music was if they went to our show and they bought a CD there. So we wanted to be on a record label and we sent out demos to probably about thirty different record labels. We definitely had a bunch of interests in several different labels. Victory was the most aggressive in pursuing us at the time and at that point, we had never heard anything band about the label, so we thought that that would be the best place for us.

What genre of music would you consider the band to be, and do you think it’s changed over the years as you’ve been producing new albums?

I think we’ve always been pigeon holed as emo or screamo and I don’t really consider us to be emo or screamo. I consider us to be a rock band. We have emo influences for sure. We have hardcore influences and rock influences and pop influences, classic rock, metal, all across the board. But I don’t think we sound like a true emo band. To me, a real emo band is…

Just kind of hardcore screaming?

No, not necessarily that. A real emo band is like Sunny Day Real Estate or the Get Up Kids (I don’t know if you’re familiar). Those are emo bands and I don’t think we sound like those bands. I think we’re definitely influenced by those bands because that’s what we listened to when we were growing up. I’d say we’re a rock band.

Are there any other bands in particular that have really influenced you and your sound?

It’s hard to say any particular band because we all have such a wide variety of influences. The stuff I listen to isn’t the same thing that Micah or JT listens to. When I was growing up, I was listening to a lot of the old school New York hardcore and classic rock, like Led Zepplin and stuff like that, but then I’d go and listen to Quicksand. Our influences are just all over the board. There isn’t one particular band that we can pick out and say, “that’s what we’re trying to be like”. I mean, some bands do that, and definitely have that one influence where they’re just like, “Man, if we could be what that band is like, we’d love it.”

That’s good, though, because then you kind of have a blend that makes you a better band overall.


When did you decide to become involved in the music scene and decide that you didn’t want a regular job, that you wanted to be doing this?

For me that started when I was really young. I grew up in New Jersey in a town called Princeton. It was right in the middle of the state. At that time when I was starting to discover music and go into shows, there was a lot going on, a lot of hardcore bands were playing in my town. There was a venue in my town specifically that had a lot of shows and that was awesome for me. I got exposed to a lot of music and I think it was around that point that I was like, “Wow, this is great. I want to do this.” I wanted to have some kind of involvement in the industry, whether it be putting on shows myself, which I did at that time, or being in a band, or working at a record label, or something like that.

So when did you really start to pursue that? Was that just right after you finished school, you decided to kind of go for that kind of thing?

No, I mean, before I went to college, I definitely was trying to get into a band and tour. That didn’t happen for me at that point before I went to college. I went off to college and at that point I figured, “Oh, I’m too old to be in a band”, which was kind of silly looking back at it, but at that point I sort of figured, “All right, I’ll get a job in the music industry”, and that’s what I was planning on doing, and then I started playing in bands and found some other people that were serious, and now we’re here.

So, you say the name changed? How did the band come up with the name Hawthorne Heights? Where did that come from?

To tell you the truth, Matt, our bass player, came up with the name. It doesn’t really mean anything. We used to tell people that it was a reference to Nathaniel Hawthorne, but that was just to try and make us sound smarter. It really doesn’t have a meaning. We just thought it sounded cool. It didn’t pigeon whole us to one particular style of music, you know, whereas if you look at a lot of other bands today, you can tell exactly where they got their name. So that’s how we kind of settled on the name Hawthorne Heights.

What about the original name?

A Day in the Life is a Beatles song. It’s one of our favorite Beatles songs. It’s on Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band. It’s the last song, and it’s an amazing song, probably one of the greatest songs they ever wrote. And we’re big Beatles fans. You’ve gotta listen to Sergeant Pepper’s, it’s probably one of the best.

So how was it when you first started playing shows?

As Hawthorne Heights, or A Day in the Life, or both?

As Hawthorne Heights.

As Hawthorne Heights, it was actually a little bit different because we had already toured as a band as A Day in the Life for a couple of years and released records on our own, so when we changed the name to Hawthorne Heights we didn’t really play out as much because at that point we knew what we wanted to do, where we wanted to be, and we tried to achieve that goal and in doing so, we spent probably three or four months just demoing songs to send them off to labels. We would write a song, listen to it, rewrite it and just do that over and over again, and it probably took us about three months to write just three songs, to sort of just fine tune what we wanted to sound like because we sound a little different from A Day in the Life, and we really wanted to figure out what we were going to sound like and who we were going to be. So we didn’t play very many shows at that time. We played a couple around town to just test songs out and we didn’t tour out as Hawthorne Heights as we did when we were A Day in the Life. When we were A Day in the Life, we would go touring every weekend and then come back and go to work the next Monday.

Did you get a good reaction from the shows that you did play?

We did, and we were getting a lot of good feedback from our hometown crowd, and that was encouraging. Regardless of that, we knew that we were writing better songs than we were when we were A Day in the Life, and we were excited about them.

What message do you really try to convey through your music to the world and your fans?

JT writes lyrics that relate to personal relationships a lot of times. He uses metaphors of love and heartbreak, even though a lot of the songs aren’t necessarily about that kind of thing. Some of the songs are about having a dysfunctional family and growing up with your dad not there and other songs are about the dangers of being out on the road and how fragile our lives are. But there isn’t really any political message behind our songs.

It’s just a wide variety of topics?


Which Hawthorne Heights song would you say is your favorite song?

My favorite song is probably our song, “This is Who We Are”. It’s the first song off of our second record. That’s only out of the songs that are released right now. We’ve written twenty-three new songs for our next record and I’m really excited about them. We have a lot of awesome songs on there that I’m so excited to hopefully play and record soon. So out of those songs, though, there’s a song called “The End of the Underground” and “Sugar in the Engine” which I really, really like because they’re kind of darker, a little more moody. They’re kind of along the lines of our song Niki FM in a little way, but it’s sort of Niki FM to the next level, and I really like them.

When are you expecting to have everything recorded and out and ready for release?

We’re planning, hopefully, on recording right after Warped Tour. That’s still contingent on several things, because we’re in the process of suing our record label, Victory Records, for several reasons, and there’s still some things that need to get worked out before we’re ready to go into the studio and release that record. We’re hoping to have it out as soon as possible, which could be most realistically early next year, February, I would imagine.

So that would be, what, two years after your second album?

Yeah, two years after “If Only You Were Lonely”.

So, basically, you’re not planning on releasing any other singles off of this album that’s currently out?

No, only because we’re in that lawsuit and they won’t release anything else. Otherwise, we probably would.

Aside from which song is your favorite, which song do you think gets the best reaction from an audience when you play at Warped or wherever?

There are two songs, I think: “Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears”, which is one of the last songs off of our second record. Gosh, we’ve been fortunate, because it’s nice having two records. I don’t want to sound cocky or arrogant because I’m not, but we have two records now, so there’s a couple singles off of each record, so our whole set is just like the singles, so people know a lot of the songs, so it’s all set between “This is Who We Are”, “Where Can I Stab Myself in the Ears”, but I think only because we try to get the crowd to do a really big circle pit so it gets pretty wild. And then “Ohio is for Lovers”, because I think that’s the song that most people know us for.

How has it been being on Warped Tour?

Warped Tour’s great! Every day, the crowds are amazing, there are thousands of people watching you, even when you’re opening up the stage one day, which we did today. There are always great crowds. There are so many other bands that we know and we’re friends with, and other bands that we’re not friends with that are just great to listen to. I think that’s what makes Warped Tour probably just one of the best summer tours, just that diversity of bands. There’s so much going on for the fans and for the bands themselves. It’s like one big sort of community. It’s fun.

Okay, I guess I just have one more question for you. Sorry that I’ve been keeping you for awhile. What would you say to your fans that you haven’t yet had the chance to meet?

We are still very much a band. I think there were a lot of rumors going around when we sued our label that we were going to break up but we’re stronger for it. A lot of fans are concerned about us ditching all of the screaming but there’s some screaming on these songs. It’s not in every song but it’s still there. But yeah, we love you, and come out and see us sometime!

Well, thanks a lot! I did see you guys play earlier and I thought you guys were really good.

No problem, and thank you!

Good Charlotte – Good Morning Revival

Good Charlotte
Good Charlotte

Artist: Good Charlotte
Album: Good Morning Revival
Label: Epic Records
Purchase: Smart Punk
Release Date: March 27th, 2007

Overall: 7.0
Music: 5.0
Lyrics: 8.0
Production: 8.5

Frankly, Good Charlotte’s fourth and most recent album, “Good Morning Revival” disappointed me, not just as a critic, but a fan. Like many other listener’s of the Waldorf, MD based band, I began listening to Good Charlotte in 2002, when their second and perhaps most popular CD, “The Young and the Hopeless” was released. Their second album appealed to many because of the broad range of relatable topics it covered, its good vocals and great harmonies, and mainstream heavily guitar-incorporated sound. Their first album, although less notable on the popularity front and perhaps less well-formed, started that appealing trend, that continued until their third album, “The Chronicles of Life and Death” was released in 2004. There were many likeable songs on this album, most notably including three popular singles off of the album: “I Just Wanna Live”, “Predictable”, and “We Believe”. Although it seemed that on their third album, there were many mediocre songs that could have been cut out of the album to adjust the focus to some better quality tracks, I found “The Chronicles of Life and Death” mostly likeable.

Good Charlotte’s “Good Morning Revival” just does not seem to be up to par in comparison to their previous albums. Perhaps GC was trying too hard to top their other albums—something that, admittedly, would be difficult to do. Or perhaps the band was trying to follow a trend that seems to have come about with many alternative bands, and change their style, something that is perfectly understandable. I just did not feel that their new, generally more techno-like, modern sound and more raw vocals was carried out in the best way possible. Many of their songs had a tune that I just couldn’t seem to find likeable, although there were, as there are in most albums, a few exceptions. “The River”, “Something Else”, and “Broken Hearts Parade” had tunes, vocals, instrumentals, and overall sound that I could certainly appreciate.

The themes that Good Charlotte focused on in this album within their lyrics also changed from topics ranging from suicide to love life to difficult family life to something entirely different. Something that this album certainly seemed to focus on was the fakeness of people and the upper-class society, although GC continued to have songs remarking upon, like most bands, love and heartache. The lyrics were, although perhaps predictable, of good taste and message, and not at all something people wouldn’t appreciate.

It stills remains, however, that overall I felt this album wasn’t of the high quality that I, among other fans, have come to expect from Good Charlotte. It wouldn’t be on my list of album recommendations; however, that is not to say that others may feel differently about this album and the band’s progression, or, perhaps, lack of progression.

My Chemical Romance Announce Possible New Album

After the rumors flying around on various online forums regarding a possible new album release for the now renowned band My Chemical Romance, Gerard Way confirms that the band working on a new album is very possible in the near future.

“It feels like it’s about the right time to be making a new record,” Way tells the media. “Maybe that’s because ‘The Black Parade’ was talked about for so long before it was released, but it feels like that album’s been out for a long time now. It’s only been eight months but we’re already on our fourth single and we’ve played a lot of shows. ‘The Black Parade’ was the kind of record that you make but don’t necessarily have a burning desire to perform because its creation was almost the point,” he adds. “It was such an intense experience to make it, that there was almost a feeling of wanting to move on as soon as we released it. It was so artistically ambitious that it made us want to keep on creating.”

However, no future endeavors for this band seem to be set in stone, as prior to Gerard Way saying this, most MCR fans were under the impression that My Chem was going to go on a two year tour for their latest album “The Black Parade” before any new releases.

The Academy Is… Interview – June 4th, 2007

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On June 4th, 2007, when the Honda Civic Tour stopped in Columbia, MD, I had the amazing opportunity to interview guitarist Mike Carden of The Academy Is… The interview was very in-depth and it went really well. Thanks to Christina and Tom for all of your help!

Tell me your name and a little bit about yourself, please.

I’m Mike, I play guitar in The Academy Is…, and I started the band with William about four or five years ago.

How did you two end up making a band together? Because I’ve heard the two of you were in rival bands in Chicago, so how did that come about?

Basically in high school, we played in different groups and different acts. He had a solo thing, and I played in another band. We just kind of at one point said, “Why don’t we start a band together?” so that’s kind of how that started. I think we were at a Death Cab for Cutie show, and that’s where we first said, “Let’s do a band.”

So you two were never unfriendly with each other?

Oh, no, it was just minor bullshit.

So what music genre would you consider TAI to go under?

I don’t know, I mean, I guess that’s for journalists to put down. I guess it’s rock music, but we really borrow a lot of things from a lot of different [places]. Being born in the eighties and then listening to a lot of nineties music, I got to choose from sixties music and seventies music, so I had a lot of different decades to choose from. So I guess it’s a melting pot of all of those things, which is very nice because I get to pick from any genre I want, which is cool.

What would you consider your biggest musical influences, having all of that different music to listen to?

I guess early on there were kind of three stages, well, no, four. Early on, my father would play Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, things like that like Bob Dylan. Then when I was old enough to understand that I could go out and buy CDs, Smashing Pumpkins were a huge band, Nirvana, STP. And then I guess when Limp Bizkit and Korn came out, that’s where I kind of went down and started listening to bands I wasn’t really happy with, where music was going, and even at a younger age I started listening to The Getup Kids, Promise Ring, Alkaline Trio, and so that kind of got me into punk rock music or whatever this has come about, or emo, or whatever you wanna call it. Now, it’s just like anything. I kind of go back and forth. I still love the Pumpkins. That is a band that will always stay with me.

What motivated you to pursue a musical career?

I guess just going to shows and seeing bands play and feeling that maybe I could do that too. Early on, the goals were very small and they still to a certain extent have surpassed our expectations of that we get to do this for a living, so I guess just early on seeing bands play and having a van or a trailer I was kind of like “I want to do that”, let alone being on a big tour with a tour bus, so I’m very happy with the way it all went.

How do you think, since “Almost Here” was such a successful album, how do you think your musical style has changed since then, if at all?

I’m twenty-two now. I wrote almost here with William around the ages of seventeen and eighteen, so during those years, influences were different. I guess our relationships were a bit different. For example, just even my family life with my folks during “Almost Here”, we were almost on non-speaking terms, and now we have a great relationship, so obviously things change in four years. My taste changed, the people you hang out with, the way you dress: everything changes, especially in these years of development. So I think we’re finally kind of finding ourselves: where we really wanna be. “Almost Here” was this beautiful mistake in the sense that we went and did that record, and no one had any expectations for the record. It was cheap, it was fast to make, and the next thing you know, we ended up touring two and a half years off of that, and got all this success off of that record, which no one really knew, so looking back on it, it was kind of a magical little journey that I never thought was going to happen but it lets us do what we do now.

Do you write your songs from personal experience, then?

Yes, yes, absolutely. William basically takes care of all of the lyrics, and as far as the melodies and the landscapes of the guitars and drums, then everyone puts their input into that.

How long does it take you to record an album?

They both were fast. Santi was recorded in twenty-two days, so pretty fast. We just kind of go for it. We’re the kind of band that’s hopefully going to make a lot of records. We don’t get too caught up in, “This has to be the one”. As long as there’s people that follow our band, and we like what we’re doing, it’s all good.

Tell me a little about your upcoming tour with Armor for Sleep? When is that going to be?

Nothing’s confirmed right now, but it will be around the fall months, so around September, October, November, sometime then. And we’re very excited about it. I don’t have too many details on it because I’m still trying to figure it all out, but as soon as we do everyone will know.

What do you plan to do following that tour?

Possibly a co-headlining tour with someone. We’re also just talking and it’s a lot about scheduling and hopefully touring with your friends but a lot of the schedules don’t sometimes line up so we always try to figure out way in advance what we’re going to do in February and March and April. But there’s also a possibility of going in and making another record. I don’t see why not, so maybe we should just do that. We’re writing songs now.

What bands would you say that you’re really friendly with?

On this particular tour, obviously Cobra Starship. I mean, we toured with Gabe when he was in Midtown, and Midtown was a band that took us out, and we got to tour with them, so I know him very well. I get along with those guys very well. The Fall Out Boy guys we’ve toured so many times with. We basically grew up with them, so I know those guys. Paul Wall’s real cool. He’s very friendly, and he just completely exceeded our expectations of being bros with him. And those +44 guys are just fun, so good times, and jokesters. As far as other bands, we love touring with, actually, one of our favorite tours was with Something Corporate, which would now be Andrew in Jack’s Mannequin. We’d love to do a tour with them, which is just, again, scheduling, and I’m trying to think of other bands we really get along with. Gym Class Heroes we always get along with, and whenever we see those guys we hang out. We pretty much try to get along with everybody, and there’s just only a few bands that have rubbed us the wrong way.

So you don’t have problems with many people?

No, not at all. I hope not. There’s just here and there some bands that you don’t associate yourself with.

What would you say your favorite song is to perform live?

Off of “Almost Here” probably “The Phrase that Pays”. I like “Black Mamba” a lot too, playing it live. Off “Santi”, I like “Seed” a lot, that’s one of my favorites, and I like “Neighbors”. Those are fun songs to play. It changes. Some of them we haven’t really gotten to do. There are some we’re holding off for the headlining tour to do some of the stuff, so we’ll see soon enough.

How long do you guys get to play on the Honda Civic Tour?

Half an hour. It’s not very long, so it’s about half and half. We do half songs off of the new record and half songs off of “Almost Here”. It’s anywhere from seven to eight songs. It’s good. It’s get up, do it, and get out. It’s fun.

How was it to perform on “Jimmy Kimmel Live”?

Great, I mean, TV’s always a little bit weird. It’s weird. When you sign up and you try and do a band, you don’t really think of those things, but it’s like things you need to do. As far as emotionally, it’s a bit more stressful than anything, but we’re getting better at it. As you keep doing it, you start losing the whole thing, but obviously the initial, “This is on TV” and for some reason when there’s cameras around it’s a different way of performing, where it feels different. It’s just because even though it seems live, and it’s like “You do that every day”, it’s something different. I mean, I like it. It stirs it all up for a second.

Here’s a final question for you: What would you say to your fans that haven’t had a chance to meet you yet?

A: It’s hard, because we try to…It’s funny because with this band that’s a hard question because a lot of times before the Internet and before technology, you’d have to kind of read about your favorite bands through interviews and magazines, where we attempt to show a window to our fans and specific fans through journals and videos and TAI TV and these things. So hopefully there’s more of a togetherness, where you’re not reading it completely through anybody because we craft those ourselves. So hopefully you kind of get to know us through that. But I guess if they met us, I think…This is so cliché because every band probably says it, but we’re pretty down-to-earth guys, and I know for a fact that we’re very happy and proud, and I think we have great fans, so we get to do this because of them, and vice versa, so it’s good!

Actually, I decided I have one more question for you. What message do you try to convey to your fans through your music and everything?

I think with “Almost Here”, looking back on it, it’s a very green message in the sense that we were very ambitious and ready to go and take it all over kind of, and I think a lot of people connected with that idea, especially when I was seventeen and eighteen. I think that was the biggest thing. It was, “Well, let’s go out”. As you tour, and you get off a bit of your high horse, and you tour and you come home, you start seeing that the things you want in life are pretty much the same overall where you just want to be happy and you want to be around your friends, you wanna find that one person that you wanna hang out with a little bit more, and you want your family to be safe and happy. I think a lot of “Santi”, a lot of those themes, deal with a lot of just more things that are really happening, and no matter what’s going on, and no matter how successful you are, there are just some things that are across the board, relative for everyone. And that was a very important record for us to make because in making “Santi”, a lot of the themes, lyrically, William really went in deep to some things and I think the landscapes of the music changed a little bit and we got to be a little bit more. That’s kind of that. But as far as the messages go, the other thing is, which we laugh about and joke about, we take our music very seriously, but as people we don’t take it so seriously. So hopefully through the TAI TV and the journals, people see that side of it, too, that we’re not all sitting here and going “How are we going to do this?” We’re really just friends and we try to have a good time .

You mean like you’re not just famous?

A: Yeah, exactly! And the other thing is that I would much rather have someone come up to me and go, “I feel like I know you, Mike” rather than just being in like a hysteria, “Oh my God, this is this person” because really, we’re really normal people. I know how I am, and there’s still bands for me that when I look up to certain guitar players or certain singers that I’m even impressed or just in their presence I’m happy to be or even to meet them, so I understand it. But with technology, we have a way, a nicer way to do it, because back when you couldn’t really show your own true colors and you’d have to read through someone else’s eyes about a band, where now hopefully people can go up on a blog or go up on TAI TV and look at us and go “That’s them and how they want to present themselves” which is the way we are, and hopefully going along with that, that’s great.

Thank you very much for your time! Good luck tonight!