Monday, October 20, 2014

Mineral – (1994-1998) - The Complete Collection (2014)

The release includes everything recorded by the band between 1994 and 1998. Naturally, it's called 1994 -1998: The Complete Collection. In addition to the two LPs, the release will include bonus songs and previously unreleased alternate recordings.

Singles were remastered much better than on The Complete Collection (2010). Apparently used a master tapes. The sound is very clear, you can hear the slightest nuances.


Disc 1: The Power Of Failing

1. Five, Eight And Ten (5:26)
2. Gloria (3:44)
3. Slower (5:46)
4. Dolorosa (5:09)
5. 80-37 (4:33)
6. If I Could (5:59)
7. July (4:24)
8. Silver (6:56)
9. Take The Picture Now (3:15)
10. Parking Lot (3:51)

Bonus Tracks
11. Sadder Star (Bonus Track) (3:05)
12. Five, Eight And Ten (Alternative Version) (5:12)
13. Parking Lot (Alternate Take*) (4:58)
14. Gloria (Alternative Version*) (4:03)
15. If I Could (Alternative Version*) (6:12)
* - previously unreleased

Disc 2: EndSerenading

1.  LoveLetterTypewriter (3:45)
2. Palisade (4:31)
3. Gjs (4:46)
4. Unfinished (6:07)
5. ForIvadell (3:36)
6. WakingToWinter (4:02)
7. ALetter (4:53)
8. SoundsLikeSunday (5:20)
9. &Serenading (5:24)
10. TheLastWordIsRejoice (5:09)

Bonus Tracks
11. Rubber Legs (Bonus Track) (5:56)
12. February (Bonus Track) (5:09)
13. M.D. (Bonus Track) (5:24)
14. Love My Way (Bonus Track) (3:56)
15. Crazy (Bonus Track) (3:06)

Mineral – (1994-1998) - The Complete Collection (2014) FLAC

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Inside Acoustic in Michael Dubin's Dorm Loyola College Baltimore, MD 1997

Inside – 516 - A Long Island Hardcore Compilation (1996)


11. Absence
12. Radio Flyer

Inside – My Funeral (1999)

With its roots firmly planted in the NYHC scene, Inside was an Emo/Alt-Rock band for the ages. Lacking any of the whiney, "look at me, I`m so different" trappings of the multitude of bands that followed in their footsteps, Inside's only true LP, My Funeral, is a testament to what this genre could have become and a sad reminder that "looking the part" will only take you so far. Can you tell I'm jaded?

Most every track here comes off like a Post-Hardcore aria, complete with the requisite twin rhythm guitars and Mallamo's full-throttle vocal assault. Where Jeremy Enigk was content to subdue his vocals and lyrics to the point of making up words and then burying them in the mix, Mallamo's strikingly clear voice rings out above the instruments with an authority not found elsewhere in this genre. Even when the lyrics stray into clichéd Emo territory, "This ring is a reminder, of a one night embrace/ Hold these words like a flower/ When you can't touch my face", Mallamo's delivery is so pure and engaging that he somehow manages to sell you on it and you're left with no choice but to sing along.

While "With This Ring" may be easily dismissible, "Jill Came Tumbling After", "The Theory Of Weights And Measures" "Hazel" and "Best 3 Out Of 5" display a maturity in songwriting that belies this band's relative inexperience. With only a handful of EPs to their credit, later compiled with part of a live show to create the pseudo-LP "7 Inches To Wall Drug", Florencio and Corrigan played distorted and inter-twining guitars with an authority Robert Smith would certainly recognize.
Amazon Customer Reviews
My Funeral; Inside's first full-length, also proved to be their final release and their swan song if you will. Driving guitars, soaring vocals and touching, personal lyrics form the bedrock of Inside's musical style. Musically this bears comparison to Elliott, Mineral and Sunny Day Real Estate. Members of Inside went on to form Blood Red and Dearly Departed, Inside, along with Silent Majority were arguably Long Islands biggest and best bands of the 90's. However, Inside, while just as good as Elliott, Mineral and their other contemporaries, just didnt seem to get the push that would have garnered them wide national appeal. Inside was voted "Band Of The Year" in Heartattack's 1999 readers poll. They toured the US four times, and hit Europe once, before disbanding. They played a reunion show in April 2004 to bid farewell to guitarist Vinny Corrigan before he moved to Ireland. 600 people converged on the small church it was held in to witness the best LI show of 2004.

Inside – Inside (1996)

The first Inside album.


1. Liquify (4:32)
2. Destination 2000 (2:38)
3. Never You (3:01)
4. Landscaping (3:16)
5. Unsound (1:59)
6. Inside (3:38)
7. Corners (4:17)
8. Q&A (3:07)

Inside – Inside (1996) 320kbps

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Jawbreaker ‎– Whack & Blite E.P. 7" (1989) + Chesterfield King 12" (1992)

A1 Lawn
A2 Crane

A1 Chesterfield King
A2 Tour Song 
A3 Face Down
B1 You Don't Know...
B2 Pack It Up 

Chesterfield King 12" (1992) 320kbps

Jawbreaker ‎– Dear You (1995)

1995's Dear You finds Jawbreaker cleaning up and streamlining their punk-pop sound and coming up with a sleek, slick punk-grunge classic that relies as much on clever songwriting and restrained emotions as it does on the group's trademarked high-energy attack. From the opening chords of the anthemic "Save Your Generation," Blake Schwarzenbach's vocals are the star. He was coming off of throat surgery that robbed him of a lot of his vocal power but gave him a smoky intimate sound that gives the feeling that he is whispering right in your ear. On songs like "I Love You So Much It's Killing Us Both" or "Jet Black," he sounds wounded in a way that screaming could never convey. The album is a powerful mix of jumpy punk-pop like "Bad Scene," "Everybody's Fault," "Fireman," and the aching "Chemistry" and mid-tempo tracks like the amazing "Jet Black," "Million," and "Basilica that escapes being tied to the time of grunge-by-the-numbers by being melodic and heartfelt without going over the top, by being just punk enough to be real and just epic enough to rise above the often boringly earnest approach of too many punk bands. Along with Weezer's Blue Album, Dear You is one of the cornerstones upon which emo and late-'90s punk-pop were built. Certainly Jimmy Eat World wore out their copy, as Bleed American sounds like a less produced younger brother, and Dashboard Confessional's whole oeuvre sounds like a lesser version of Dear You's acoustic "Unlisted Track." Depending on how you feel about emo, there is either a lot to blame Jawbreaker for or be thankful for here. Either way, Dear You is one of the best rock records of the '90s and a fitting last testament to a great band.
Tim Sendra
Many modern day emo bands will not hesitate to declare Jawbreaker one of their biggest influences, however Jawbreaker is far from being an emo band themselves. It is true that the majority of their songs are about some sort of relationship trouble, but their musical style is a far cry from any form of emo both old and new. With Jawbreaker's final release "Dear You" in 1995 a completely new sound was born that many bands have since tried to duplicate. None of these bands, however, have managed to produce a sound even close to Jawbreaker's. At times it is a sound packed with raw intensity, at other times it is a mellow sound with intricate melodies. A constant in all of the tracks on "Dear You" is a sincere and genuine emotional edge in all of Blake Schwarzenbach's vocals. This is the quality of Jawbreaker's sound that other band's are unable to duplicate. The pinacle of Schwarzenbach's emotional connection to the music an be heard in the track "Jet Black." You can litterally hear the despair in his voice amidst a musical backdrop that cannot come close to matching th vocals in emotional intensity.

The trouble with "Dear You" is that for the most part the tracks sound the same. True, there are slow quiet songs and fast loud but the quiet songs sound like the other quiet songs and the fast songs sound like the other fast songs. I fact almost all of the songs on the album follow the same pattern: A brief intro, a verse, a repeat of the verse, a chorus, a quick solo or interlude, another verse, another chorus, occasionally there is another solo here, and an outro.
The tracks sound so similar that during my first week of owning the album, I would litterally think I was listening to one track only to find out that I was listening to an entirly different one later on in the song. Not only do the songs on "Dear You" sound similar to each other, they sound similar to songs on other Jawbreaker albums. The first part of the chorus in "Save Your Generation" sounds almost identical to the chorus in the song "Chesterfield King" off of Jawbreaker's first album "Bivouac."

Another with Jawbreaker is that aside from the vocals, the musicians rarely showcase their abilities as musicians. Most of the songs are nothing but simple power chords and basic drum rythms. Occasionally there is a complex drum or guitar part but more often than not it's just mediocre musicianship. Lyrically, however, the album is outstanding. Though most of the lyrics are about relationship trouble they somehow don't come off as whiny as emo music does, largely due to Schwarzenbach's unique voice, and I find that it is easy to relate to the lyrics, something difficult for me to do with emo bands.

The highlight of "Dear You" would have to be the final track, which is simply titled "Unlisted Track." Honestly it would probably sound the same as all of the other tracks if not for the fact that it is played on an acoustic guitar.

Jawbreaker's final album "Dear You" is to this day a great example of modern pop punk and is a truly unique album from a truly unique band. Though the tracks sound the same a redeeming quality is that the sound is so unique that it really isn't too much of an issue. Despite the tracks' simalarities and mediocre musicianship i award Jawbreaker's "Dear You" with a 4/5

I don't feel the review section would be complete without someone saying something about this album. Yes, it was the first major label release by Jawbreaker, and their last release of new material as a band, but it still ranks in my top five albums I own. "Dear You" was also the bands first try at crystal clear production. It did cahnge the sound of the band a little(or a lot), but the songs are what really matter(although it would be cool to hear the same songs with the same production as on 24 hour or Bivouac).

These Jawbreaker tunes are shining examples of the bands style. Some are upbeat punk rock songs with odd chord and tempo changes, and some are the heavier alt-rock that could be considered the "grandfather of emo" type songs.All the songs overflow with Blake's poetic and meloncholy lyrics. Some may seem overdone, but if I could convey what he does with my lyrics, I'd probably have a tendancy to overdo it at times myself.

My favorite songs(if I have to pick) would be the opening anthem "Save your generation", the third track "Fireman", which I think has the best words to any Jawbreaker song, and "Accident Prone",a slower song that is soft and easy through some of it, and all out aggression in other parts.It also contains my favorite lines from any song,ever."I couldn't wait to breathe your breath,I cut in line I bled to death, I got to you there was nothing left." Other great songs are the rockin' "Chemistry", the story-telling punk song "Sluterring:May 4th", and the last track, which showcases every sound in the bands repituare, from saddened, slower easy listenin' to furious noise-core.

Some say that the major label demons killed Jawbreaker, and I wouldn't totally disagree with that, but this album is completely amazing and a must have for any fan of good, loud, thought out music with meaning. Believe it or not, I bought it when it was first released way back when for only 8.99$, and it was even at somewhere like Camelot Music. To this date, I have yet to buy an album that has influenced my musical taste as much as "Dear You". If you can find it, attain it, by whatever means neccesary.
Mark Williams

Jawbreaker ‎– 24 Hour Revenge Therapy (1994)

More trials and tribulations than an average episode of Melrose Place, Jawbreaker continues to explore their personal struggles on their third album, fittingly titled 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Continuing on the Jawbreaker tradition of poetic lyrics that provide a mental image to each song, the band deals with their endeavors through music instead of wallowing in them, making this record not entirely bleak. "Do You Still Hate Me," for example, has the persona dishing out the friction of a relationship gone sour through talking to the person in question: "I wrote you a letter/I heard it upset you/How can I do this better/We're getting older/But we're acting younger." Being critiqued and ostracized from their scene during the height of their popularity was another headache singer/songwriter Blake Schwarzenbach dealt with around the time this album was released (their previous album, Bivouac, provided them with a huge cult following). This no doubt inspired the song "Indictment," which talks about not caring what anyone thinks of their songwriting ("I just wrote the dumbest song/It's going to be a singalong/Our enemies will laugh and be pointing/It wont bother me, what the thoughtless are thinking"). Providing the perfect flow of temperamental pop to go along with these stories is proof enough that 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is the pivot of Jawbreaker's creative output.
Mike DaRonco

Review Summary: 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is not only Jawbreaker's best work, but also an emotional punk masterpiece which has helped mold the pop-punk genre as we know it today in innumerable ways.

In the modern pop-punk realm, most bands’ success can be attributed to one album which would change the face of music as we currently know it. This album was the legendary Dookie by Green Day, the primary band responsible for the explosion of the genre in the mid-nineties along with The Offspring and blink-182. But going back even further than that, it is impossible to deny the fact that Jawbreaker had a huge influence on Green Day’s music. While Jawbreaker’s first two albums, 1990’s Unfun (with possibly the funniest album art ever) and 1992’s Bivouac, both were seminal underground hits, both albums also lacked that accessibility that made their immediate predecessor, 1994’s 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, such a classic and a huge influence on the bands that created the mainstream pop-punk sound that would rein triumphant over rock radio until nasal singing, cookie monster screaming, and pseudo-emotional lyrics (which extends Jawbreaker’s influence ever further) would become the more popular sound of the two.

Musically, it is very clear that bands such as Green Day were very heavily influenced by Jawbreaker. The band was well-known for crafting catchy and simplistic melodies without becoming tepid or uninspired, something that their more popular cohorts were sometimes incapable of. With only three members in the band, and a miniscule recording budget, the band was relatively incapable of creating overly complicated music. But fortunately, in Jawbreaker’s case, this was exactly what would suit them best. Sticking to the rudimentary three-chords that so many pop-punk bands are notorious for using, they were able to create a multitude of dynamics and emotions with what little they had-something that many less talented bands even to this day attempt and fail miserably.

“Condition Oakland” is an tremendous example of the band at their creative peak, starting out with urgent and catchy bounce, before transitioning to a brilliantly emotional chorus where singer Blake Schwarzenbach wails about the pains of being lonely and misunderstood in the most sincere and honest way possible. The gem of the song though, comes during the spoken word section, where a morose poem describing some of the bleak landscape of downtown Oakland is read over a throbbing bassline, light tinkering of a piano, and a twangy, emotive guitar line. “Condition Oakland” harkens back to Jawbreaker’s first two albums, both of which attempted to be a dark and mature take on the pop-punk that was coming into prominence at the time, while adding a more sprawling, epic feel to the music. It is ironic then, that this track accomplishes all of what their first two albums set out to do better than those albums did. It stands out as one of the most artistically challenging and emotional pop-punk songs ever written.

Singer Blake Schwarzenbach is a paradox. His vocals are certainly not what one would consider traditionally great: he is very raspy and has quite an edge to his vocals. But unlike so many other vocalists with similar issues, his vocals fit the music (and to a greater extent, the lyrics) perfectly. Recorded immediately after throat surgery to rectify the damage done from his even rougher vocal work on both Bivouac and Unfun, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy shows him at his emotional peak, fitting perfectly between the nearly unintelligible vocals from Jawbreaker’s earlier work, and the over-polished, whinier delivery prevalent on the bands swan song Dear You and the similar tone of his work with Jets to Brazil (Schwarzenbach’s first post-Jawbreaker effort).

Perhaps 24 Hour Revenge Therapy’s greatest strength lies in the lyrical content. Where Schwarzenbach’s earliest work with Jawbreaker could be considered almost myopic lyrically, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy expands upon the theme of loneliness and heartbreak that pervade both Bivouac and Unfun, while also introducing many other ideas. “Indictment” is a burning satire of the rock star mentality that Schwarzenbach so obviously despises, and an ironic attack upon bands looking to write substance-free music for the sake of popularity. “Boxcar” is an outward condemnation of the label-happy punk scene which began to cry “sellout” following the progression from their first two albums and an outward cry of basically “we don’t give a fuck” towards anyone who accused them of such a thing. “Do You Still Hate Me?” is most likely Jawbreaker’s most honest and poignant lyrical work in their discography, with only their opus “I Love You So Much It’s Killing Us Both” possibly being a contender. Schwarzenbach’s lyrical work on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is extremely personal, almost to the point of being voyeuristic, while still being quite intelligent, with heavy reliance on metaphors and symbolism, and never cliché.

24 Hour Revenge Therapy is easily the gem of Jawbreaker’s impressive discography. It shows them at their peak artistically, refined a bit from their early efforts and more streamlined, but without some of the fundamental flaws. It also catches them prior to their major label debut, Dear You, where much of the impact of the songs is lost in the radio-friendly polish used thoroughly throughout the course of the album. To say that 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is for everyone would be incorrect: Certainly many will dislike the album for valid reasons. But although not everyone is inclined to enjoy it, it is fully capable of converting many listeners of varying tastes onto a completely different genre, and has provided a key release in the development and rise of a genre that is disdained by many and embraced by many more. Without 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, it is highly unlikely that pop-punk would be where it is today, and the music scene as we know it would be a completely different landscape.

Recommended Tracks: The Boat Dreams From the Hill, Condition Oakland, In Sadding Around, Do You Still Hate Me?
Joe Costa

The last true Jawbreaker album in terms of availablility - Dear You being tricky to find - and in terms of play-through quality - Unfun and Bivouac both now a combination of EPs and LPs. Needless to say this album still kills any punk rock album put out from when this album was released. Not much has come close to sounding like Jawbreaker despite the rants saying that Jawbreaker formed emo or some other BS like that. Jawbreaker doesn't embody emo even for a second. It should not even be a comparison for there is no comparison to be made. Apples and oranges if you will. Punk rock took a large blow with the demise of Jawbreaker and punk will be dead as soon as Fugazi dies. You cannot tell me that the bands nowadays hold any DIY ethic with the formation of large "punk rock" labels ala Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph. The bands sound so close to each other anyhow if not the same. The mood of 24 Hour Revenge Therapy fluctuates from joyous (The Boat Dreams From The Hill) to depressing (In Sadding Around). Kerouac no-doubt influenced Blake's writing as is apparent by the little line in Boxcar (" killing cops and reading Kerouac"). The included Kerouac poetry in Condition Oakland (perhaps the best song on the album) helps solidify this opinion. Every song is strong and I never find myself skipping a track for the next. Lastly, the albums layout and artwork further astonish. From the beautiful cover to the back to the inside with band pictures which aren't the sappy types found in the Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph which proclaim "look at me having a good time with all my friends." I don't care to see your friends. Overall this album just impresses. There is no excuse for not having it. Although I'd rather you didn't so I could sit in its glory alone.

Jawbreaker ‎– Bivouac (1992)

As the principal wordsmith for Jawbreaker, Blake Schwarzenbach was one of the first songwriters in the punk scene to embrace literary lyrics more personal and challenging than the often vague or pseudo-political proclamations of the early emo scene and far more intricate than almost all of the band's West Coast pop-punk contemporaries. In their short lifespan, Jawbreaker would arc from their scrappy melodic punk beginnings (Unfun, 1990) to a polarizing major-label swan song (Dear You, 1995) with everything in between, from high-tension band breakups to extended hospital stays, vicious criticism from former allies in the punk scene, and the creation of a subtle masterpiece in 1994's Steve Albini-recorded 24 Hour Revenge Therapy. Somewhere in the center lies Bivouac, Jawbreaker's second album and easily their stormiest, gruffest material. The album came after a brief breakup brought on by a devastatingly rocky summer tour, expressed to the hilt in the horrifying lyrics of "Tour Song," with its coda of "Every little thing must go wrong." With a little time, they reunited and relocated from New York to the Bay Area, taking a good amount of city grit with them and applying it to a foundation of sophisticated guitar-based pop songs. While Jawbreaker's heart was composed of Schwarzenbach's poetic storytelling and a sense of romance so immediate it touched the music as much as the lyrics, Bivouac is more marked with musical struggle than any other of the band's albums. Aggressive songs like "Face Down" and "Like a Secret" lean more on dissonance and buried vocals than the group's usual melodicism. Bearing in mind that the landscape of independent punk in 1992 was overshadowed by a booming grunge scene, it makes sense that Jawbreaker's toughest songs on Bivouac have hints of Helmet, Gish-era Smashing Pumpkins, and other acts of the day that were in the process of blowing up. Interspersing classic young-love pop songs like the timelessly sweet "Chesterfield King" and the optimistic "Shield Your Eyes" with more angsty material gives Bivouac a searching quality, clearly made by artists grasping for identity or clarity in changing times. The ten-minute title track finds the coagulation of all the shifting elements of the album, dialing in the swirling basslines and big grunge choruses with beat poet-inspired lyrics aiming to reconcile Holden Caulfield-esque displacement and alienation from immediate family. As the song churns on it sets the scene for what would come next in the band's discography, a more digestible and confident progression in lyrical and musical development. However, the journey to that development is a rocky one, and the unhinged urgency of Bivouac is an enormous moment, and one necessary to go through in order to take Jawbreaker from their naive punk beginnings to the one-of-a-kind band they grew to be before their star burned out abruptly.
Fred Thomas

Exactly how I felt, Blake. There was once promise in music, our society, and humanity in general. But all that hope is fading fast. I've seen bands use what was once the most offensive type of music and exploit it into a money making, trend setting industry.

I have seen violence and hatred plauge our planet, our country, and yes, our neighbors. Everyone knows about the 'terrorist attacks' in New York, but few know about the Siek individual(which is a completely different religion than the Muslim faith) in Phoenix Arizona U.S.A., who was murdered simply because he resembled the attackers. It is this type of blind, ignorant violence that will eventually be the untimely end of humanity.

The intesity of this Jawbreaker album can only be paralleled by Earth itself. Aggressive and up-front often, but underlying and soft at times as well. Songs like 'Chesterfield King' will go down as one of the greatest love-songs off all time(in my book anyway), while others such as 'Donatello' reach deep into the realms of saddness. 'p.s.New York is burning' is disturbingly accurate, almost a decade in advace. It is a complete rollercoaster of human emotion, from depression to rock-stardom. In high school, I was sure I would be the one to write beautifully ugly songs, intensively disgusting and yet softly ellegant at the same time. To my disgression, it had already been done.

Little did Jawbreaker know that the sloppy, ear-aching sound they were playing would eventually be over-produced, capitolized, and distributed to the masses as 'emo'. However, they took the often stagnite punk rock sound to a whole new level of experimation, intesity, and emotion, while remaining raw and unscathed.

'Bivouac', what appears to be your average, run-of-the-mill punk record, is everything but that. An unpredictable, inventive, lyrically-genius album ahead of its time.

In a day where one sees eveything he wishes he didn't see, there is an answer... 

With Jawbreaker's first album, Unfun, they proved themselves to be more than just a Punk band. They were energetic, dark, and with poetic lyrics that resemble the arty beat poetry of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Chuck Bukowski, but with a twist that was, and is, described as emo. But on Bivouac, Jawbreaker mastered that.

Slower than Unfun, Bivouac is a look at the world from the inside out. The songs are slow shades of poetic alienation that goes a few steps above teenage poetry (a lot of steps) and perfectly take stabs at the world. "Shield Your Eyes" opens the album perfectly. It starts off with a small line of feedback, and a quick drum roll before going into the song with a great melody covered by a wall of distortion. The bass line is bouncy and the drums are perfect, but it's the lyrics that are the true catch. It tells the story of a man who looks straight into the sun, which "Lights the whole damn sky", and is blinded. "He can't do anything, Everything is a lie." That single line sums up the whole record. Unlike most bands, Jawbreaker takes an equal amount of storytelling, preaching, and self deprecating into one mix; most bands take one of those elements and just stretch it until it pops.

As always, the rhythm section of Chris Bauermeister and Adam Pfahler is top notch. They prove to be very versatile tempo-wise, and always keep up with the wall of distortion that Blake cemented into the band's sound. One of the best examples is "Face Down". The song's bass line is great; simple, yet extremely effective. The drums show an equal amount of fluency, as they aren't too fast nor too slow.

Donatello is another example of how, lyrically, Jawbreaker was the best. There's poetry, "I'm gonna cut my strings and kill the puppeteer. Then I'll walk on out of here", and in your face, to the point, one liners, "Sure you made an impression. Depression". It also features some of Blake's most passionate singing. He switches from almost whispering slurs into passionate yelps at the world. There's a short recorded spoken word interlogue as well. "When it all comes down, I can show you something you will not believe. When it all comes down, we're gonna see a real masterpiece. With an artist's eye and a killer's touch. Takes a life to make one."

So, in case you haven't noticed, I think Blake is a lyrical genius. Most punk lyricists just stood to the loud and fast rules back in those days. But Blake presented something much different, something that appealed to a whole new group of kids, waiting for the next Rites of Spring, the next wave of emo. Over the years, however, he has been mimicked by little wannabe pop-punk bands that stole the originality of it and made it, unfortunately, a bad take on teenage poetry.

One of the best songs on the album is the self explanatory, Tour Song. Despite the differing subject matter, Tour Song has the same approach as the previous songs. It shows that touring's main catch is playing, and even that is hard to get through. "Chesterfield King" is one of the lighter tunes on the album, describing an affair, but with a beat twist. "She asked me if I had a name. I told her I was glued up on some chick. We sat and smoked against the wall. Drank a beer, felt the chill of fall."

This incredible record ends with the epic, ten minute and six second, "Bivouac". Out of all the sad songs on this record, the saddest has got to be this one. Similar to The Velvet Underground's "Sister Ray", Bivouac is loose and jammy, but still with a sense of direction. The lyrics are also poetic and arty, something that could describe this record perfectly.

Most people call 24 Hour Revenge Therapy the band's best album. Which makes sense; it's the band's most accessible record before signing to a major label. So all the so called "real fans" that "stick it to the man" by not listening to Dear You, go for Revenge Therapy, the same reason all the "hardcore Green Day fans", go for Kerplunk, instead of Dookie. But I'm not going to waste my time. In my opinion, Bivouac is the band's Classic. It's dark, emotional, witty, and arty, but still with the flare of Punk rock.

They never became a household name and people still think Face to Face or some shitty "pop punk" band wrote "Chesterfield King", but Jawbreaker were a huge deal for a lot of people. I remember driving from New Brunswick, N.J., to Philadelphia to bring my girlfriend a promo cassette copy of Dear You, the group's 1995 post-Green Day major label debut. It had arrived a day earlier at the record store where I worked, and I thought she'd want to hear it. I got out of the van, showed it to her; she tossed it on the ground, smashed it under her foot. Around that same time, a guy I knew from local basement shows, came into the record store, pointed to the tattoo of the Jawbreaker logo on his arm, and shook his head. He had tears in his eyes.

This was a band the underground didn't want to lose, at a time when commerce wasn't so closely intertwined with everyday listening experiences. Formed while they were students at NYU, the trio of vocalist/guitarist Blake Schwarzenbach, bassist Chris Bauermeister, and drummer Adam Pfahler relocated to Los Angeles and released their debut, Unfun, in 1990 (it was reissued by Blackball in 2010). Unfun was a good (very fun) record, a solid dose of early 90s emotional, literate punk that established the raw-voiced Schwarzenbach as an underground hero. The band went on the so-called "Fuck 90" tour with Econochrist that summer and broke up, but managed to get back together, relocate to San Francisco, and record 1992's Bivouac.

The record found them experimenting, and pushing into deeper, angrier, heavier (and headier) waters. People cite 1994's Steve Albini-helmed 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, which showed up after they played some shows in 1993 with Nirvana, as the group's pre-major label masterpiece. But Bivouac has always held a special place for me. It's their darkest collection, a sprawling, shaggy-dog set that found them transitioning from the cleaner, calmer Unfun to something grittier, wilder, and smarter. Bivouac was a ragged call to arms, 24 Hour Revenge Therapy an ambitious offering within that newer space they'd created.

Bivouac also includes one of their most beloved songs, "Chesterfield King", a poppy anthem a lot of people saw themselves in. It was a perfect punk vignette. In just about four minutes Schwarzenbach sets a scene ("We stood in your room and laughed out loud/ Suddenly the laughter died and we were caught in an eye to eye/ We sat on the floor and did we sit close") as vivid as good fiction. One of his gifts was finding a way to present specific, personal details ("Held your hand and watched TV and traced the little lines along your palms") and make them feel universal. So, here, when the protagonist cuts out to catch his breath and ends up sharing smokes and thoughts with a toothless woman in a 7-11 parking lot, you sort of remember this happening to you, too.

But it's not all love and lovesickness. From opener "Shield Your Eyes" ("There was a sun once/ It lit the whole damn sky/ It kept everything alive") onward this is an apocalyptic record filled with bigger kinds of searches, depression, and dirt. You get that soul sickness in "P.S. New York Is Burning", "Parabola"'s "I saw myself in someone else and hated them," and "Like a Secret"'s request: "Don't talk me down from here/ Let me fly this kite without a string." It shows up clearest, and more impressively, in the 10-minute closing title track's search for meaning: "I'm lonely/ I'm an only/ I learned to put on airs/ I needed them to breathe/ Today I wake up." Here, Schwarzenbach sets an earth clawing scene ("I dug my fingers in the earth/ I drew picture of my pain/ They were so pretty") punctuated by feedback, noise, and the singer's howling of the album title, a shout that hurts and brings down the shelter he's place around himself. It's a call for help, though one that doesn't need to be answered. You get the sense that it's the act itself that mattered most.

Biouvac's 20th Anniversary CD reissue, remastered by John Golden from the original tapes, includes songs from the original studio sessions: "Ache", which showd up on 24 Hour Revenge Therapy, and "Peel It the Fuck Down", which appeared on the 2002 compilation Etc. Like the original 1992 CD, this version includes the four-songs that appeared on the 1992 Chesterfield King 12": "Tour Song", "Face Down", "You Don't Know", and "Pack It Up". For those who followed the band at the time, those tracks have always felt as much a part of the tracklisting as the 9-song vinyl version. (Fittingly, Blackball has also reissued the 9-song Bivouac and Chesterfield King 12" on vinyl for the first time in years.)

One of those Chesterfield King tracks, "Tour Song", ends with the line: "Every little thing must go wrong." But, the truth is, despite things not working out exactly as planned, everything did not go wrong. People were angry when Schwarzenbach had painful polyps removed from his vocal chords and were ready to riot when, later, he cleaned up his vocal sound for Dear You. That record didn't sell well enough according to DGC standards, Jawbreaker never became the next Nirvana or Green Day, and in 1996 the group called it quits. But, in retrospect, Dear You was the right record for the band to make. (It's a great album, just not the one you wanted to hear when you were 21 and navigating a close-knit underground that hadn't dealt with this sort of thing firsthand.) So, yeah, Jawbreaker may have grown up before we were ready for them to grow up, but their music has managed to age especially well. It feels as vital now as it did two decades ago.  
Brandon Stosuy 

Jawbreaker ‎– Unfun (1990)

   Jawbreaker could be easily described as a pop-punk band with more of a dark side. Not that this isn't true, but it just wouldn't do this trio any justice to their poetic lyrics and complex song structures. With Unfun, a very influential record way ahead of its time, they make a name for themselves -- not as your run-of-the-mill punk band with a verse-chorus-verse style, but rather as a band that provides fitting background to the personal side that they're not afraid to show. For example, take one of the more energetic songs on the album, "Busy," in which the person offers a helping hand to a friend on the verge of mental collapse ("When nothing seems to be quite worth it and sleep becomes the only sure thing/I'm here to help you out of it/Come and see me for a lift"). But two tracks later, self-doubt and guilt are present in "Wound": "Feel my burning rash/Old scabs on my back/Deep red welts from hating myself/I was once, once so strong." Quite an emotional roller coaster, but at the same time it gives Unfun its edge and originality.
Mike DaRonco

I feel like I'm betraying an old friend by writing this review. Before he condemns me for my transgression, however, let me begin to defend myself by saying that we really haven't been in touch recently. He's been hanging around with his brothers on my shelf and I've been hanging around with newer bands, people I now find infinitely more interesting than him.

Although, having just admitted that, I realize that this review might end up seeming like I'm betraying him twice over. Not only am I unearthing our long-ago, once-vital friendship for the lone purpose of writing about him, but I'm also baldly admitting that he's become less of a friend to me. Sure, I still pull him out for a spin now and again, usually when I'm feeling like I haven't heard from him in eons, and we always have a blast. But mostly, I seem to forget about him. (If you must know, his spine is fading a bit from over ten years sitting in the sun in whatever apartment in which I happened to be living. And it's getting damn hard to read his name anymore. So perhaps it's no wonder I don't look him up more; he's literally become invisible.)

But there's also a third betrayal I'm making by committing these words to paper. I'm not going to be talking so much about my old friend's musical qualities that once brought and still bring me so much happiness for this tribute to him. True, there are tons of these qualities, probably more than will fill this paragraph—the galloping percussive bass and sustained guitar chords that open "Want", the first song on the record, the clever use of sampled dialogue in "Incomplete" and "Eye-5", the impossibly-fast drums and breathless lyrics of "Gutless"—but, uncovering him once again for the purpose of writing about him, I'm more struck by how this record has become symbolic of two things for me, one of which is easy to discuss, the other being more elusive.

I want first of all to explain how this record hit me when I first heard it, shortly after it was released on CD in 1992. It sounded like a perfect sonic brew of the genres I obsessed over in high school—heavy metal and college rock when "college rock" meant what the radio station outcasts (not the fraternities) were listening to—and combined the driving musical aggression of the former with the melodic sensitivity of the latter. Like the rap music I was also listening to at the time, its lyrics were personal and intelligent. (For evidence of this, listen to "Busy". Its eager awkwardness comes across as strangely coherent; it's like having a wee-hours drunken conversation about the profundities of the world that lasts well into the rest of your life.)

That paragraph, though, is all musical evaluation; it would do well to be summarized in the following statement: Unfun sounds pretty much the same right now as it did then.

So why am I wasting finger movements and stomach acid trying to write about this record? Well, this is where the elusiveness begins: it was my introduction to the punk rock/d.i.y. music community. This community was one of which I was utterly ignorant; only later, when I became submerged in it, did I realize that it existed outside of the confines of the mainstream that I did know. A friend in college (a real flesh-and-blood friend, not an aluminum disc friend) who was in a punk band introduced me to the record, telling me it was one of his favorites. In order to find a CD copy for myself, since I wore out the cassette copy I made of his, I scoured the copies of Maximum Rock N Roll that he loaned me and went with him when he went to independent record stores and punk rock shows. After I found the record, things just seemed to blossom.

Now, I could go on and on about the bands I started listening to, the shows I started seeing, the people I started meeting, the friends I started making. This would clearly demonstrate my total Jawbreaker-sparked engulfment by this outsider community (and thus make for good writing). But the point I want to make is one that's more difficult to argue (and thus make for not-so-good writing): this record is doubly symbolic for me. It's representative both of my gateway into the musical community of punk rock/d.i.y. and into the ideological community of punk rock/d.i.y. culture.

So at what point did listening to punk rock music lead to a change in my cultural world-view or ideology? How does consuming a product of a certain public culture lead to a personal ideological change? What were the specific steps by which this happened to me? I know that it wasn't Jawbreaker's music or lyrics alone on the record that did it. Nor was it the hundred or so bands that I discovered as a result of the record. Nor was it any one of the friends I made, the books I read, the movies I saw, the papers I wrote, the thoughts I thought, or the things I said since those months in 1992 when my mind and world opened up for the better.

As close to an epiphanic moment in this tribute as I'm going to reach, those last few sentences are pretty cringe-worthy. But writing about Unfun as a specific cultural product of a specific place and time in my life that has had lasting effect just feels right fucking on. I'm sure my old friend would approve. 
Anthony C. Bleach

There really is no definitive album in Jawbreaker's discography, but in that sense, Unfun may be just as crucial as anything else in their catalogue.

The spectacularly heralded, endlessly romanticized Bay Area punk band produced four full-lengths with so many widely ranging points of contention among critics and fans regarding the band's musical trajectory and career decisions, it's left no one album to claim as the band's essential. If you ask Allmusic, they'll tell you 1993's 24 Hour Revenge Therapy is tops, with 1995's Dear You and 1990's Unfun in close range. Ask Steve Albini and he'll call it a "decent, if standard pop punk record of the type that was pretty common in the mid-90s"--and he produced the fucking thing. And if you navigate to Pitchfork, you'll see they took the time to shit all over Dear You--twice--before qualifying this recent reissue of the band's debut LP as "irrepressibly fun." Less jaded fans are probably prone to calling Dear You the classic; scene fixtures and musicians like Bob Nanna tend to place 24 Hour on said pedestal. In this reviewer's opinion, the band seemed to improve with every passing release (though the pronounced remaster on Unfun begs to differ the merits of said evaluation).

Still, though, trying to regard a place for Jawbreaker's first full-length within the canon of their catalogue seems near impossible, but that vague notion of status also makes it a little more vital to the full "Jawbreaker experience." In turn, perhaps that's what warrants a proper reissue of Unfun. Blackball's redux offers a remaster of the entire record, along with a bonus track--the 7" mix of "Busy." The band's 1989 EP, Whack & Blite, is here too, though it appeared on all original CD pressings anyhow. I don't believe the original 7" liner notes were replicated in the original Unfun booklet, however, and here they're represented for perusal in all their Xeroxed glory. Sound-wise, the remaster seems to add a little more "pop" to the overall mix; the percussive nuances are more distinct as well. As for the alternate "Busy" offered, Blake Schwarzenbach's voice seems a little sharper and the bass is turned up a bit, but it's largely not all that different.

Of course, the record itself has aged incredibly well. From Schwarzenbach's macadam-encrusted yelps on fan-favorite opener "Want" and the driven, emotional thrust on "Fine Day" that would hint at a career made on heartbreaking restraint, to the nimble, distortion-dipped fingering on "Busy" and Schwarzenbach's nasal, desperate commands on "Gutless" not to fall behind, its unfiltered, raw surge seemed relentless. Sure, the melodies were a little unrefined and the songs often stagnantly operated on the same rough, tumbling plane, but it still made for a bustling, impressive debut all the same. That it was a mere foundation for the ambitious, big hooks of 24 Hour and the polished moroseness of Dear You hardly hurts its relevance--Unfun was where they had the forward charge but still knew to occasionally proceed with caution. And hell, Whack & Blite closer, "Eye-5" was easily one of the most memorable songs in the front half of the band's catalogue, spiraling into an epic, sound clip-laden finish the band would rarely replicate in form for years.

So perhaps the minor bonus features here themselves are what makes Unfun just a little more essential, but the Jawbreaker chronology is still so overanalyzed and prodded at that missing out on any point could very well be remiss.

   San Francisco's Jawbreaker straddled a pivotal moment when emo was a "core": halfway between insult and genre, hardcore and pop, underground and mainstream. Their lyrics stressed both punk principles and emotional outpourings. Their music was furious but catchy, with a set of mannerisms that flowed smoothly into indie-rock, pop-punk, and alt-rock: palm-muted power chords laced with bright octaves and harmonics; guitar leads rounding off into whistling feedback; counter-melodic bass lines; and epic breakdowns with arty sampled monologues. They had lofty ideals, but their songs walked around on the streets, sullen and pissed, with fresh scabs and dog-eared volumes of Bukowski in their back pockets.

The phrase "emo-core" itself is a problematic compromise between hardcore and pop-- an angst-inducing identity for a young band. Blake Schwarzenbach was 22 when Jawbreaker's 1990 debut, Unfun, came out, and this was but one of the pressures that drove him. Recriminating tunefully through a shredded throat, he calibrated himself against a punk scene and adult world of coequal injustice. Unfun was Jawbreaker's punkest record, but he feared it wasn't punk enough: "Sorry we ain't hard enough to piss your parents off," he snipped on "Incomplete". His fretful intelligence often led him to dispense free psychological evaluations and strawman parables. There are many issues-based songs: "Softcore" is anti-porn, and "Seethruskin" is anti-racism. It gets almost Orwellian: "Don't think that I ain't counting all the things you do," Schwarzenbach bristles in scene-cop mode. (He always loved those sassy "ain'ts.") To that extent, the record earns its title.

Yet the music itself is irrepressibly fun. Drummer Adam Pfahler was a fucking behemoth, a whiz with galloping toms and breathtakingly long fills. He sounds great on this low-end boosted reissue, which, on CD and download, also includes the formative Whack & Blite EP. And Schwarzenbach's prickliness was ultimately sympathetic, because it stemmed from a vulnerability he laid bare in songs like "Want", where dark secrets are exorcised in the name of love. "So now you know where I come from," he sings, underlining it twice for emphasis: "My secret's come undone/ My heart reveals my cause." The world is fallen, but he's not dancing on the wreckage. He's looking for survivors, imploring on "Busy", "We're all close to the end; don't you need a friend?/ Honor your allegiances!"

By 1995's major-label but still-fierce swan song, Dear You, Jawbreaker seemed wholly out of step with the scene that revered them; a broken lineage made painfully clear by the terrible cover versions modern emo bands produce. Schwarzenbach managed one pretty great album with Jets to Brazil, Orange Rhyming Dictionary, before petering out into mojo-less soft rock. With reunion and documentary rumors rumbling, Jawbreaker is primed for renewed attention, though one wonders what emo fans raised on Dashboard Confessional, Warped Tour, and Vagrant Records will make of their pinched, petulant sound. Regardless, the original music stands tall. On Unfun, Jawbreaker's conviction that punk could open up to pop while staying hardcore burns more urgently than ever, in the retrospective light of futility.
Brian Howe

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Been hearing about you. All about your disapproval.

Dear readers. Be a little patience. 
Deleted and nonworking archives will be reuploaded to Mega soon, and the blog will be updated with new albums (Jawbreaker discography, Crank!, Caulfield Records releases and many more). 
Stay tuned!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Various Artist – In-Flight Program - Revelation Records Collection '97 (1997)


1. Sense Field - Building (1:35)
2. Texas Is The Reason - Back And To The Left (3:55)
3. Farside - Audience (3:37)
4. The Iceburn Collective - Sphinx (4:36)
5. Shades Apart - Fearless (2:53)
6. Chain Of Strength - True Till Death (2:22)
7. Whirlpool - Wasteland (2:37)
8. Chinchilla - Decoder (4:26)
9. Bodyjar - Glossy Books (3:51)
10. Ignite - Embrace (2:22)
11. Sparkmarker - Chrysanthemum (3:15)
12. Youth Of Today - Break Down The Walls (2:05)
13. No Fun At All - Master Celebrator (2:53)
14. Gorilla Biscuits - New Direction (2:13)
15. State Of The Nation - A Piece (2:48)
16. Beta Minus Mechanic - Sandcastles (2:57)
17. Quicksand - Omission (2:24)
18. Underdog - Say It To My Face (2:12)
19. Judge - Bringin' It Down (1:50)
20. Supertouch - Vendor (2:54)
21. Inside Out - No Spiritual Surrender (2:57)
22. Shelter - Enough (1:54)
23. Burn - Shall Be Judged (2:18)
24. Into Another - To Be Free (3:15)
25. Bold - Looking Back (2:13)
26. Engine Kid - Windshield (3:23)

Various Artist – In-Flight Program - Revelation Records Collection '97 (1997) 320kbps

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Evergreen Trio – Lift Up Your Voice (2001)

So after listening to The Evergreen Trio’s Lift Up Your Voice about six or seven consecutive times at work this past week, a really disturbing calm settled over me. I found myself at work, daydreaming about driving out to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and the only sounds around me would be the sound of Lift Up Your Voice playing in my car. Once I got to the cabin, I'd walk inside, put this EP on repeat, and curl up in a ball and cry by myself for days. Once again, I'm wrought to bring up the age-old question, "Why is it that the most stripped-down performances always seem to garner the most emotional responses?" The concept behind this CD is so amazingly simple that a monkey could have pulled it off, provided, that is, that the monkey could play an acoustic guitar. Over the course of winter 2000-2001, Joe Reina stepped out onto a cold back porch with an acoustic guitar a few times. Nick Alberts was there with a tape recorder, and after a small delay for tape transfers, seven extraordinarily atmospheric and bare-bones tracks were released as Lift Up Your Voice.
Headphone listening was required at least once before I could claim to even partially "know" this disc, as the back porch atmosphere plays into the mix with the subtle sounds of the wind and the occasional vehicle passing on a nearby road. The whole thing sounds so terribly honest, like Reina was just walking outside with his guitar and exposing everything about himself to the cold air, daring nature or anything else to challenge his feelings.
This sense shines through brightest during the second and third tracks on the disc. "My Token Boy" combines a delicate two string guitar cadence with Reina's restrained voice for a dazzling effect. The highlight here has to be Reina's practically tear-jearking Greg Dulli-esque "Ooooooooo’s" before the song ends on a more traditional strummed-chords note. "Bernadette" follows with an almost bluesy lick that practically carries Reina's faltering voice. The track is most powerful when Reina’s voice seems to soar on an unseen strength before almost cracking and breaking down only seconds later.
Lift Up Your Voice may have been recorded in the dead of winter, and the mix here is (intentionally) thin (even for a simple guitar-and-voice recording), but this EP still carries a lot of warmth that can be found under the right listening conditions. I figure this disc will be great for my next big self-reflective phase, but it would work just as well as a quiet, lulling soundtrack for this winter's long, cold snowy nights. Recommended.
Delusions Of Adequacy

"Recorded on a back porch in early 2001, 'Lift Up Your Voice", which is the Evergreen Trio's second full length, is stripped down to just a voice and acoustic guitar. These seven songs bring to mind a time when songs were stories, sung and passed along through the times. With this essentially being a field recording, you get a sense of time and space, hearing the sounds of crickets and even trucks passing by on the highway. All of these circumstances lead to a barren and personal record that is new, yet hauntingly familiar."
The paragraph above, along with the fledgling label's address and a photo of a rather grizzly-looking young man, composes the entirety of this CD's promotional materials. A glance at the sparse packaging yields little additional information other than the name of the grizzly young man in question, Joe Reina. The music contained is similarly sparse--a few strummed chords and a distant voice gently crooning about something that might actually be meaningful if we could hear it over the tape hiss.
The Evergreen Trio takes the notion of "less is more" to the extreme, and as an unfortunate result, some otherwise beautiful melodies are lost under a thick cloud of "lo-fi" artistic posturing, and an even thicker cloud of irritating tape hiss. Mr. Reina would be best advised to leave the minimalist meandering to more capable musicians, and try giving his promising songs the development and production they so desperately need.
D. Pennepali

The Evergreen Trio – Lift Up Your Voice (2001) 224kbps

The Evergreen Trio - For All Intents & Purposes (2000)

The Evergreen Trio are an indie rock/emo band from Rockford, IL active in the late 90’s. The Evergreen Trio play a brand of midwestern emo-style rock with sincerity and without apology. Think of the melodic guitar styles of Mineral with off-kilter vocals of Davey Von Bohlen and the changing rhythm of Joan of Arc. Then throw in some keyboards and samplings. All with tight, immaculate performance and unabashed sincerity and honesty.

It isn't too often when a song title qualifies as a beautiful line of poetry. It's more rare when such a song as "These Gas Station Roses Should Tell You Something" is equally beautiful on a musical level. Here, on their first track, the Evergreen Trio lay the blueprint for what they deliver best: sincere, emo-packed vocals and strong melodies that offer both New Order-like guitars and heavy dollops of piano. This approach is continued on songs like "This Day/We've" and the rainy day "Cobblestones & Embassies", while another, equally prominent side of the band shows them to have affinity with Antarctica ("Burt Bacharach Without Dreaming", "Petals and Ashes"), where keyboards replace the piano and create a more new-wavey feel. In each case, they sound more musically exciting than most acts now playing, and it's a slight shame they didn't have the keyboards and piano infiltrate the whole album. By minimizing those touches near the end, on songs like "Will You Wake Me" and "O' This Happiest Day", you get to appreciate the gloss of "electronics" even more, as it shows the Evergreen Trio just an ebony and ivory away from being a merely decent emo-rock group.

Someone overheard me listening to this disc and said "this sounds like the Alkaline Trio without distortion and slowed down." I said "ouch." They have a whole different kind of creativity, different intent and purpose in their music. More of a midwestern town reality, not the anger, perhaps the frustration but willing to take the time needed in each song to explain what they mean in a way that they at least can understand. The songs aren’t spilled/spelled out for just anyone and therefore can add meaning for everyone if they take the time to listen.
The sound effects and drum machines add an aspect of electronica to the otherwise emo sound and the only thing that could possibly pin them to The Alkaline Trio is the style of vocals which are also not unlike those of Mineral. At times I even feel as though I’m listening to a piece of the Red House Painters faster paced songs. The instruments are tight except for an occasional intentional looseness to allow space for a personal interpretation.
This album is a late summer listener. Days are just beginning to get shorter, the grass needs to be mowed a couple more times before the leaves are in the way. There is still playing to be done while waiting for the autumn to approach and with it bring a chill and a whole new emotion to the music.
JJ Hamon

Everyone is using keyboards and other electronic elements these days. It gets so a band that uses traditional guitar/bass/drums sounds incomplete, doesn't it? While using these new-fangled elements to mix things up isn't a bad thing, most bands don't do it appropriately. The Evergreen Trio, however, puts the focus on their traditional rock instrumentation first and uses electronic elements as backing noise or supporting elements. And they do it very well. You've probably guessed from the band name that I'm going to use the word emo in this review. The Evergreen Trio play a brand of midwestern emo-style rock that I still can't get enough of, especially when done sincerely and without apology. Think the melodic guitar styles of Mineral with off-kilter vocals ala Davey Von Bohlen and the changing rhythm of Joan of Arc. Then throw in some keyboards and samplings and couple it all with tight, immaculate performance and unabashed sincerity and honesty. That's why I love this so much. Turn the volume up as "These Gas State Roses Should Tell You Something" starts off quiet, with soft piano and melodic guitar over a low hum of noise. This lengthy song flows along at a slower pace, more pretty than rocking but putting most of the emphasis on the vocals, which really do hit some great high notes. "Cobblestone & Embassies" definitely has more of a Joan of Arc feel to it, especially in the lead and backing vocals, but it has a much more consistent and pop-style flow to it, with great percussion. The keyboards come in to provide a more hushed and contemplative mood on "Petals & Ashes," and it flows seemlessly into the oddly named "Burt Bacharach Without Dreaming." The percussion on "Dance, Academy, Dance!" makes this song, combining traditional drums and synthesized drums with some great guitar and just enough of a pop feel. This is definitely my favorite here, especially as the vocals soar. "A Few Less Sour" is probably the most intense song here, with the percussion really turning things up over a more underscored guitar line. The vocals literally shine on "O' This Happiest Day," soaring above everything and really driving this song. But the Mineral-esque guitars really drive the closer, "Will You Wake Me?" I admit it - I love this band, and I love their style. This brand of music reminds me why I fell in love with that post-hardcore melodic style called emo. It's all about the melodic guitar, the wonderful, flowing songs, the sincerity and honesty. And The Evergreen Trio are probably the best new emo band I've heard in so long. Sure, there are elements of a lot of other bands you're probably already sick of here, but this band puts them together in a way that's fresh and wonderful.
Delusions Of Adequacy

Everyone needs to own a CD like this. Not necessarily this one in particular, but one like this. The Evergreen Trio [who actually have 5 members -- try explaining that one] play extremely heartfelt, emotional, low-fi indie rock. And they play it extremely well. That's not supposed to mean their songs are extremely intricate [they're not] or they're ridiculously well-produced [they're not] or even that their music is all that groundbreaking [it's not], but that's where my first sentence ties back in: everyone needs to own a CD like this. The CD that's perfect for that lazy weekend morning in your room; the CD that just fits for a long, potentially dreary car ride; the CD that makes you think about that special person and just why they're so special. These boys manage to overcome every potential stereotype about their genre and really put out a solid first CD. I advise you to all watch out for The Evergreen Trio.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Saves The Day ‎– Stay What You Are (2001)

On request

Here goes a rendition the classic music critic gripe:

If the world was a "just" place (oh silly critics) Saves the Day would have the career of Fall Out Boy, only with way more credibility. 2001's Stay What You Are is the most radio-ready emo album there is and it's not even that close. It's melodic bliss, yet somehow it just didn't click. Saves the Day was just four years too early. The album came out in the height of pop punk's infiltration of mainstream teen culture, and this album just didn't fit the mold of the Blink-182s and Sum 41s of the world. But hey, as a music listener, I'd prefer that an albumbe unappreciated and great than known and unlistenable.

Atypically, the album begins with a funeral on the aptly titled "At Your Funeral." The track is not as melancholy as one would expect, in fact, musically it's bouncy. Like most of the songs on Stay What You Are it emotes more bitterness than sorrow. The follow-up "See You" features leadman Chris Conley at some of his lyrical best, with vivid imagery that is instantly relatable:

"My gut is burning. Won't you find me some water?
Hey, just forget it can you bring me gasoline
and collect a couple forks, hold them three feet apart
and wait for lightning to strike to burn me up?
Cause I don't think that I have got the stomach to
stomach calling you today."

"Cars & Calories" almost seems like a premonition listening back on it now. It's vicious attack on the falseness of celebrity culture and the obsession with appearance is like a direct critique of people's fascination with tabloids and "reality" TV shows like The Hills. Conley's lyrics continue to shine on "Jukebox Breakdown," which explores the very cool idea of what it means to be a singer through means of an extended jukebox metaphor.

The ballad "Freakish" is the kind of number the band was made to play. It's hopelessly romantic swoonings encapsulate youthful heartache to a T. Maybe it was choosing this song to be a somewhat unconventional single that did in Stay What You Are's chances of success, but it's hard to buy that, because it has one of best music videos ever.

"As Your Ghost Takes Flight" and "All I'm Losing Is Me" both feature offbeat guitar parts that instantly catch the ear's attention. "As Your Ghost…" is the most morose and angry tune on the album, as Conley sings of revenge and blood drinking (another missed opportunity, the Twilight kids would eat this up). The songs are just part of the first-class musical variety that Saves the Day's members display throughout Stay What You Are.

With the album nearing it's end things wind down with "Nightingale" and "This Is Not An Exit." They are more delicate, understated tunes which gives them a bit more reflective air. It amazing more songs in the genre are not do not strive for this sound, which fits the downtrodden aesthetic so much more accurately. As Stay What You Are goes out in a glorious burst of flickering flames on "Firefly," one could bemoan a band that had every right to make it and didn't. But that misses the point. Saves the Day made an album the likes of which the bands that followed in their success can't touch. That seems just enough.

"Hey guys, did you hear the new Saves The Day CD?"

"Yeah, it blows...what a bunch of stupid cry babies."

That has been a common reaction to the new album throughout the punk scene...

Recorded in early 2001, the new STD album, Stay What You Are, takes the band to a completely new level. If you're looking for a Can't Slow Down or Through Being Cool rehash, just quit reading this review right now. The 11 song disc begins with "At Your Funeral", an amazingly catchy, but amazingly dark song. The whole album is far darker than any previous effort by the band. 
Followed by "At Your Funeral" are, "See You", "Cars & Calories", "Certain Tragedy", and "Jukebox Breakdown." The album is so varied, it's hard to categorize it. But, labels are useless, right? As those first 5 songs pass by, you notice the change in the band. You notice the darkness, the distorted guitars. You notice a brand new band. 
"Freakish" follows after "Jukebox Breakdown", and it's just an amazing song. Words are hard to describe it. "I'll make my way across the frozen sea, beyond the blank horizon, wehre I can forget you and me, and geta decent night's sleep." If that's not sincere I don't know what is. 
"As Your Ghost Takes Flight" is next up. It's a song for the whole family. No, not really. It's a creatively violent song, which scared the poo out of me the first time I heard it, but it fits in nicely with the theme of the album. Sometimes you just have to let go, as things change... 
After that, "Nightingale" follows. By far the best song on the disc. The song is written like a dark story that you don't want to end, as is the entire album. There's just something special about "Nightingale" that will have you hitting replay over and over again. 
"All I'm Losing Is Me" continues the dark theme, and then the slow love song pops up, "This Is Not An Exit." It's a really well written song for the brokenhearted. "Firefly" ends the album, and it does it in good fashion too. Good song. 
Yes, this is the most diverse work that STD has ever done. No, you will not enjoy this album if all you want is fast paced punk. Yes, you have to have a deep mind to understand the genius in this album. 
Chris Conley has received critical praise across the board for his amazing lyrics, and vocals. That credit is much deserved, I might add. The guy is a genius. 
Dave Soloway and Ted Alexander have vastly improved on guitar, and it shows on this one. Eben D'Amico's roaring bass is amazing. Bryan Newman's drumming fits beautifully. 
My rate's a 9 out of 10, but I really think it's a 9 & a half. Do yourself a favor. Pick this one up on a rainy day.

Review Summary: Saves the Day's best release, and a huge milestone in the history of Pop Punk.

I remember the first time I listened to this album vividly. I was in my bedroom scoping through internet for new music to listen to. The clatter of rain dripped down my window graciously, and I had no luck finding good material to get into. I was a sucker for Pop Punk at the time, especially Taking Back Sunday's "Tell All your Friends". After about an hour of searching for something, I came across the group "Saves the Day". At first, I was skeptical about the band due to the silly name and the cliché cover used for their most popular album, "Stay What You Are". After reading a bit more about it, and the critical acclaim the album garnered, I decided to give it a listen. I did not enter the album positive; I went in with the sole purpose of ripping the album to shreds. When the last words of "Fireflies" were sung, the growing sunlight poured through my window and I was in awe of how wrong I was.

"Stay What You Are" does little to improvise a unique sound that differed from most Pop-Punk groups at the time. The quirky guitar work, catchy drums, and clean vocals are all there. However, Saves the Day rather improvises on the generic rhythms with impressive instrumental works and irresistible lyrics to sing along too. Right when the first words of "At Your Funeral" were spoken, I was hooked on the catchy lyrics as well as Chris Connelly's fantastic vocal performance. Some people use the word "feminine" to describe his voice. I have never found his voice feminine, yet I find it to be a bit whiny at some points of the album. This isn't much of a negative, since the positives of his voice and lyrics highly outweigh the negative. His voice stays strong throughout the album, as his voice never lets up until the very end.

The guitar work on the album is to be noted also. Though the guitar doesn't stray too far from its crunchy chords and three finger riffs, it provides an excellent way to be enticed to the song, as it doesn't attempt to outdo the rest of the performances. The best example of the guitar work found on the album is showcased on "This is Not an Exit", I find myself humming the guitar on this song frequently. Even though it may seem simplistic at first, you must realize that it isn't trying to outshine the other instruments on the track. The bass can be heard frequently, but it doesn't do much to improvise the sound with the other instruments. I found myself enjoying the guitar and drums a lot more, with the bass proving to be a shadow in the back of the other two instruments.

The drums on the album are well placed and executed perfectly; they keep the rhythm of the album at a balance, as well as improvising on the mood of each song. The drums provide different tracks for each song, and don't sound recycled like some other Pop Punk releases at the time. The cymbal crashes on "Nightingale" are by far my favorite example of excellent drumming on the entire album. They do their job, improving the songs atmosphere and overall sound for a good cause. The drums on the album are not what you would here from your typical Pop Punk album. They provide enjoyable tracks to keep up with as each song flows off of each other.

The standouts of the album are found in the final few songs on the album. "Nightingale" is an excellent slower song that builds tension with its hard hitting drums and Connelly's beautiful lyrics. I always get a chill when Connelly sings gracefully "The Nightingales are singing out!" The chorus is one of the catchiest on the album, and the bass line provides an interesting groove to get into. The next standout would be the famous "This is Not an Exit". This is by far the most memorable song on the entire album. After my first listen, I could recall the chorus and opening guitar strums by memory. Chris Connelly out does himself here, with intricate lyrics and a beautiful ring to each melody he produces with his voice. The finale of the song takes the song to a whole new level though. The lyrics are just so mesmerizing, I find myself smiling every time the song reaches its climax. The honest lyrics spill out of Connelly's mouth so positively and clean that there's no reason to not feel happy. I still listen to this song every time I'm down in the gutter, it's such a wonderful song, and I recommend it for anyone who is into Pop Punk. The final song, "Fireflies" kicks off hard, with some of the fastest work on the album. The lyrics are honest and subtle, yet highly affective. There seems to be less interest in providing a catchy chorus, but with a bigger intention of closing off the album with a grand finale. The final minute and a half of the song is some of the best on the entire album, as all the instruments collide together to form a memorable harmony as Connelly signs it off.

This is by far one of the most enjoyable Pop Punk albums I have ever listened to. The lyrics are memorable and catchy, the instruments are well crafted and each serves a purpose, and the energy put into the album is off the scale. Chris Connelly's vocal performance is top notch, giving each song color and emotion with each note his voice provides. This is Saves the Day's greatest achievement, and it's a shame they could not capitalize on such a great start. This album has become a staple in the industry, and it serves its purpose for being one of the best Pop Punk albums ever made.

Punk rock finally smiled during the late '90s and into the millennium, thanks to the bands like New Found Glory, Sum 41, and countless other TRL mainstays. New Jersey's own Saves the Day play with post-punk stylings on their third album, Stay What You Are. More mature compared to 1999's Through Being Cool, Stay What You Are mixes emocore delight with post-grunge snarl, and Saves the Day's harmonies are jaunty and tight. But the album is also quite dark and grim; they stay close to the anger found in punk in the first place. Album opener "At Your Funeral" pauses at the idea of death of a peer. Frontman Chris Conley's boyish vocals project a façade of sweet, bouncy sounds, practically glossy and sheer. The bleak descriptions found on "Jukebox Breakdown" and "Nightingale" capture the grittiest three-chord riffs and Saves the Day's highest artistic moment yet. They're bittersweet from love, and self-discovery is most pertinent. They want to avoid such loss, and "All I'm Losing Is Me" suggests that. Saves the Day is conscious of what's affecting their generation, post Generation-X, and they're asking thousands of questions. Stay What You Are yearns to fight the compromise within social standards and complies with bit of self-indulgence.
MacKenzie Wilson

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Texas Is The Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection (2013)

This new expanded version of Texas Is The Reason's groundbreaking album includes the last two songs the band wrote before splitting up, but had never released. 
These two songs, which fit right into the band's canon, were finally put to tape this year with "Do You Know Who You Are?" producer J. Robbins - making this, for the first time, a complete career retrospective.


1. Johnny On The Spot (4:15) 
2. The Magic Bullet Theory (2:48) 
3. Nickel Wound (4:36) 
4. There's No Way I Can Talk Myself Out Of This One Tonight (The Drinking Song) (3:57) 
5. Something To Forget (Version II) (5:50) 
6. Do You Know Who You Are? (2:43) 
7. Back And To The Left (3:55) 
8. The Day's Refrain (4:59) 
9. A Jack With One Eye (4:42) 
10. Every Little Girls Dream (previously unreleased) (6:06) 
11. When Rock 'N' Roll Was Just A Baby (previously unreleased) (3:21) 
12. Blue Boy (4:10) 
13. Something To Forget (Version I) (6:16) 
14. If It's Here When We Get Back It's Ours (2:25) 
15. Dressing Cold (2:49) 
16. Antique (5:04)

Texas Is The Reason - Do You Know Who You Are?: The Complete Collection (2013)