This was a difficult piece for me to try to do properly, as there is really no other band that comes close to being what The Dangerous Summer have been to me for the past five plus years. For that reason, this is more of a personal reflection rather than a traditional album review.
Iíve been listening to the new album, Golden Record, a lot lately. Make no mistake, this is a good album. Even with two new members joining the band the musicianship is as tight as ever. Ben Cato absolutely kills it on the drums. Matt Kennedy, formerly of The Graduate, fits perfectly in the band, and his guitar work, along with Cody Payneís, is both innovative and yet at the same time, the backbone of that familiar The Dangerous Summer sound. And then there is AJ Perdomo. It could be argued that there is nobody currently in the scene that projects sincerity and emotion quite like Perdomo does vocally. With the heart on sleeve lyrics and a voice that bleeds honesty, thereís no denying that Perdomo is the soul of this band.
But hereís where things get complicated. Consider the previous two albums, Reach For The Sun and War Paint, and ask yourself how realistic it is to expect lightning to strike for the third time in a row. I want to say that I love this album, but I canít. I love parts of it. I like others. Other parts, I wait for them to be over so I can get to other songs. I find myself skipping around tracks in a way I didnít with the last releases. The album opens with ďCatholic Girls," the first single and one of the stand out tracks on the record. The track is fairly indicative of what you can expect sonically and vocally for the rest of the album. Perdomo is notably more aggressive vocally on Golden Record, and there are some times where I find myself wishing that his delivery was dialed back just a bit. Some people will love the aggressive approach, others will not. Iíve always thought that it was best used for emphasis in contrast to Perdomoís smoother vocals. Songs like ďSurfaced," ďNever Feel Alone," and ďEveryone Left" come to mind. After the opening track, there is a sequence of songs that after a few listens seem to blend together. Maybe itís the sequencing, maybe itís the songs themselves, but itís hard to find standout moments in the record until ďMiles Apart," which is The Dangerous Summer once again operating at their peak. There is another lull, and the album ends with another terrific track, ďAnchor," which is a slow burner that picks up speed and is the kind of song specifically made to close out an album.
Regardless of these criticisms, itís not that Golden Record is a bad record, because itís not. Itís just that itís not what I wanted it to be. Itís not what Reach For The Sun and War Paint were for me. Is it selfish of me to feel that way? Maybe. Should I try to listen to this without comparing it to prior releases so much? Probably, but how realistic is that to ask of a listener when it comes to a band like this? For a band that I have supported from its earliest days, and for a band that I have become friends with over the years, itís somewhat painful to feel that way, but itís the reality of the situation and itís me being honest.
In our scene, there exists a sort of condition. And that condition is that we want all of these albums from the artists we love to perfectly encapsulate whatever moment in our lives we currently find ourselves experiencing. We want these artists to pen our biographies, we want to be able to say ďyes yes thatís what Iím feeling, thatís what Iím thinking, thank you for saying it better than I ever could have." I donít listen to music because I ďlike" it, and I donít listen to music because itís ďfun." I listen to music because it makes me feel something that I havenít been able to find anywhere else. As you get older, I donít think that you ever stop looking, or at least wanting, to make that connection, no matter how many times youíve made it in the past.
But, as you grow up, things change. It becomes harder and harder to find this feeling since you are both consciously and subconsciously comparing new records to every other album you have ever been in love with, and with every other emotion that music has ever made you feel. For somebody who is deeply passionate about music, itís a tough dilemma to come to terms with, and I donít think there is really any way to adequately solve it. All you can do is work on finding acceptance and learning to appreciate what you have, and what you have had. Be thankful that you are the type of person who can truly appreciate music as art, as well as all of the emotions and sentiments that come along with it. There are some people who will never feel the things that you have felt, they will never attach memories and moments and people to the music that you love, and they will never know the joy of singing along to a song that sets a fire inside your heart.
The Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft was launched in 1977 and sent out to the depths of space as a sort of message in a bottle in the hopes that intelligent life would one day discover it. The record was sent out not with a definitive message, but with bits and pieces of what we represent as a human race. In this sense, I feel like a parallel can be drawn to the release of this album. While Golden Record might not be perfectly cohesive or the definitive release from this band, it is still very much a The Dangerous Summer record, and it will eventually find its place in the universe that is this music scene.
I hope that, with this record, some of you are able to find what it is that you are looking for, for wherever you might be in your life.
Every now and again, a record emerges in the shellshocked, foxhole-filled musical landscape in which we live that reminds me of why I love music as much as I do. You get old. You get jaded. You get burnt out. And you just wonder, "When's that feeling going to come back?"
This album brought that feeling back to me. Maybe timing is everything, but God, it's like this record was specifically meant for this point in my life.
Enough said. Here are my thoughts on Charlie Simpson's debut solo album, Young Pilgrim.
And I'm wondering what you would like to see me review. It could be an album that just came out, or an album from a year or two, or more ago. I've been meaning to get back to writing reviews and thought it might be fun to get some public opinion involved. The only one I'm sure that I will be writing is Lydia's Illuminate. I don't know why I haven't already written one for that album, it definitely deserves the treatment.
This might have been the best concert I have ever seen. There are a few others that could possibly compete for that spot, but this night was something truly special.
Butch Walker's "One Man Band" Tour played exclusively in Atlanta for two nights, and I had the privilege to be there for the opening show. Center Stage is one of the best spots in the city to see a show. There is not a bad seat in the house, and the sound was spot on. Anyways, the show...
After much anticipation and only one opener, Butch took the stage. He started out with some new songs which most of us knew as they have been floating around the internet for some time. Of the dozen or so Butch shows I've been to, I'm not sure if I've ever seen an audience this receptive. He always gets a huge welcome home in Atlanta but this was above and beyond what even I am used to. Maybe it was because he hasn't played here in awhile. Maybe it was because it was his first show here since he lost everything in the fire. Some parts reminded me of being at a Dashboard Confessional show, with every single person in the audience singing along, our voices blending with his. The crowd was passionate, but never overpowering.
The highlight of the evening for me had to be Butch finally playing "Grant Park." He was fooling around on piano for awhile, and then started to pull people up from the audience and giving them instruments like a tambourine, a maraca, a keyboard, and one kid even got to play drums. Butch gave them a beat to play, and then went into Grant Park with them playing along. My head exploded at this point, my friend and I looked at each other, screamed, and started to sing along. I had been waiting 7 years to hear this song again and it did not disappoint. The crowd was explosive at this point, but the fun had only just begun.
Butch then transitioned into "Stateline," which has become a new crowd favorite since he began playing it regularly last year. Halfway through the song, some people walked out on stage and picked up instruments. The Let's Go Out Tonite's! So much for this being a one man band show. Butch's band came out and backed him up for the rest of the song, and for most of the rest of the show. This was pretty rad considering were were expecting nothing more than a chill performance from Butch himself.
Butch played some songs, new and old, with The Let's Go Out Tonite's, and then they left the stage. He started Cigarette Lighter Love Song, and then there was more activity on the darkened stage.
The Marvelous 3. The Marvelous 3 are back on stage. The Marvelous 3 are playing Cigarette Lighter Love Song. Oh my God.
Jayce and Slug came out and tore through CLLS, and then went into Indie Queen, an old Marvelous 3 song. These guys still have the magic. These guys still have the chemistry that made me fall in love with their songs nearly a decade ago. Slug totally killed it on the drums, and Jayce was singing along with almost every word in Indie Queen. With a few kind words and a hug, they left. It is always a dream come true when I see those guys play together, and I can only hope one day they give it a proper goodbye.
Butch closed out the night with "Best Thing You Never Had" going into an enormous version of "When Canyons Ruled The City" with the house lights up, Butch perched over the edge of the stage directing the audience, and the entire crowd singing along.
It was a night full of surprises, and when I think to my spoiled self that there's no way Butch could possibly top the previous shows he has put on, he does. Incredible performance. If you ever have a chance to see him play, do it.
If you get to experience even a fraction of what I did, there is no way you could leave disappointed.
Ships in a Bottle
A Song for the Metalheads
Diary of a San Fernando Sexx Star
Past Your Place
Here Comes The...
#1 Summer Jam
Taste of Red
3 Kids in Brooklyn
Maybe Its Just Me
Only Love Can Break Your Heart
Race Cars and Goth Rock
Cigarette Lighter Love Song
Best Thing You Never Had
When Canyons Ruled the City
Tate did one of those big track by track initial impression blogs awhile back, so I figured I would do the same with the new Emery release. There's not a whole lot to say, so let's get to the songs....
I like the intro to Rock N Rule. That is, until you get a random blare of what seems to be a broken bugle. The crashing introduction and guitar riff is awesome until all flow is disrupted by that random sound bit. The vocals donít seem to be mixed high enough, as the guitars clash with them, and there is next to no clarity. Once again, the fast guitar riff, one might call it almost swanky, sounds great. Thankfully this time there is no broken horned instrument. The screaming and gang vocals sounds surprisingly good, and is the most classic Emery element thus far. The song ends much better than it began.
The Party Song! Awhile back I said this should have been an Andrew W.K. b-side. I stand by this statement. Not many bands can pull off lyrics about being at a party, or even using the word party, and I do not believe that Emery is one of those bands. With lyrics such as ďGet your party onnnn!Ē and ďYou got kicked out of your motherís house, you stole money from her purse,Ē I really wonder where the hell these lyrics came from; Maybe an episode of 7th Heaven. Musically, I like this track as well. The sound and structure is great, the lyrics are not.
World Away sounds ďlighterĒ than the previous tracks. Itís not very intense, and almost sounds dance line at some parts. To be honest, this could have been a Maroon 5 song. The lyrics are once again, very simple, and repetitive. Not a bad track, but nothing special.
After The Devil Beats His Wife starts off with a fast mix of vocals and crashing instruments. Once again, the vocals blend in way too much with the music, and aside from the parts that are sung with no music in the background, there is next to no clarity. I have no idea what the lyrics in this song are about. Other than ďThis is the pain of believing,Ē I can hardly even remember what heís said in this song. Not catchy in the least. At 2 and a half minutes into the song, I have lost complete interest, and around 3 minutes in there is a lot of unnecessary screaming. Blah.
Can't Stop The Killer starts off good, with the best lyrics of the album so far. The vocals sound great (this is probably because there is only a light guitar strumming in the background, and you can actually hear them.) The song picks up, the rest of the band joins in, and then the song goes absolutely nowhere. We get some robot-like synthesized vocals, and the build-up is completely killed. Once again, halfway through the song I am completely disinterested. The vocals get louder, the drums get faster, rinse, repeat.
Story About A Man With A Bad Heart sounds the same as the other songs so far. They are singing about going out and having dinner and drinking. Iím not sure when it became cool to sing about menial, everyday occurrences. Another track that has random screaming towards the end. The vocals sound absolutely terrible at the end, kind of like Say Anything, but really, really bad.
WHAT THE HELL AM I LISTENING TO? The intro to Donít Bore Us, Get To the Chorus is completely atrocious. I have no clue how this is pleasurable to the ears, or who the hell thought it would be a good idea to start off the track with screaming munchkins. Thereís some lyrics about high school, and then it turns into a Forever The Sickest Kids song, with electronic drum beats and hand claps. I really like Forever The Sickest Kids. I do not like this song.
What Makes A Man A Man starts off as a slow acoustic song, and gains some dynamics. The song is pretty dull until the end, where the dual vocals finally shine for the first time on this album. Other than that, not that great of a song.
The Movie Song starts off with some more terrible lyrics. This is really turning me off, and I want to listen to something else at this point. This song sounds the same as the earlier songs on the album. Thereís a lot of ďwhoa whoaĒ going on, and some more random screaming. It kind of sounds like a Mewithoutyou song at some points. I donít mean that in a good way.
You Think Youíre The Nickel Slick (But I Got Your Penny Change) has the worst track title on the album, but sounds alright. Itís one of the least aggravating songs, if that tells you anything. Almost every song on this album is structured exactly the same.
From Crib To Coffin sounds like every other song on this cd. If I wasn't looking at which song was playing, I would swear it was the same song 10 times, or one 50 minute song that sounds the same. It ends with what appears to be the menu music from an NES game. This song is anything but epic. I am now depressed.
I'm gonna go ahead and say it, this album sucks. Emery has been one of my favorite bands for a long, long time. With this release, Iím not sure what to feel. I know bands change, but this is undoubtedly a change for the worse. I think most people are going to hate this album. I think I already do. If I never listened to it again, I donít think I would be missing anything. Coming from the band who brought us Walls, The Ponytail Parades, and In a Win, Win Situation, this is a very unexpected let down. Check it out and be the judge for yourself. As for me, Iím gonna go get my party on with a bottle of Jack Daniels and try to forget about what I just listened to.
Leave me a comment and let me know what you guys think.