Hit the Lights - Coast to Coast
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
Release Date: June 23, 2009
When Hit the Lights released their second EP, Until We Get Caught, in 2005, Scott Weber from AP.net wrote a review for the EP. The EP scored a 50% score, and Weber called it "infectiously catchy" but he also stated it was "easily forgettable" and said "it would be virtually impossible not to draw comparison to other bands." Hit the Lights then cited the review in the opening line of the first song, "The Call Out (You Are the Dishes)," on their first album, This Is a Stick Up.... Don't Make It a Murder to refute the claim.
What's changed since then? Well, besides the singer, not much. Coast to Coast is a "filler EP" that Hit the Lights singer Nick Thompson says is to "Give out fans a little something to hold them over until we drop a new record." Thompson also mentions how he'd like to do a little something different on this EP, which features two Hit the Lights originals, two covers, and two acoustic tracks.
Beginning the album is the title track, another fun, catchy pop-punk standard we've to come to expect from Hit the Lights; but don't be discouraged, this is the band at their best. A distorted lead guitar plays definitive pop-punk in the beginning behind a hardcore-style rhythm guitar in the intro, and the riff gets repeated throughout the song until the very New Found Glory chorus with the kind of quirky Hit the Lights have become known for ("No, I'm not sorry for a damn thing/don't take this away from me/when it's time/we'll know it/and take it coast to coast/our past becomes a ghost/and you'll follow me"). Next up is "Pulse," which is definitely the weaker of the two originals. It kind of lacks the fun catchy pop-punk other HTL songs have, in favor of a more piano-pop angle. The chorus is very reminiscent of better material from All Time Low, and the production is a main cause of that comparison.
Next up are the two covers, which are the best on the album. "Drive On to Me" is a great song by Elliott, an indiemo(TM?) act that broke up in 2003. The song is different for Hit the Lights, as there's not very much pop-punk fun to be had. Instead, it's a serious, slow track, though it still retains a high-energy hook and lots of similar guitar styles. The second cover is "Snowbirds and Townies" by Further Seems Forever, also a more indiemo act. Hit the Light does the song justice, for sure, but my main complaint is that, similar to the cover of "Drive On to Me," it isn't so much a cover as it is a copy of the original; they do very little to stylisitcally differ from the originals, which reduces their overall lasting values.
The last two songs are acoustic versions of earlier songs, one being "Tell Me Where You Are" from Skip School, Start Fights, and the other a medley of "The Call Out (You Are the Dishes)" and "Make a Run for It" from This Is a Stick Up...Don't Make It a Murder. "Tell Me Where You Are" is a nearly perfect choice for an acoustic track, and although the drum machine in the chorus of the song seems misplaced and awkward, the verses are nice and the vocals from Jaime Lacey fit nearly perfectly. The album-ending medley opens with "Make a Run for It" which sounds surprisingly good acoustic. The background vocals from "The Call Out" come in about two-and-a-half minutes in, and they also fit surprisingly well with the track in general. The acoustic numbers are both very well layered and the vocals mesh perfectly.
While Coast to Coast is definitely enjoyable, as Weber once said, it's horribly inoffensive and it just feels like so many other artists of the genre. The largest complaint you can have is that, given the idea of the EP, this is almost exactly what you'd expect from Hit the Lights, although the covers do come from out of left field. The lack of ambition this band has shown is beginning to become apparent; Hit the Lights might want to follow in the footsteps in one of their influences, Blink-182, and develop a more mature sound after a few pop-punk records.
I'm liking this album a lot. Gives me something better than ATL to listen to while I wait for FYS's cover album. haha.
Drive onto me is quite solid, as far as covers go, I thought.
And Coast to Coast is one of the better pop-punk songs to come along in a while.
Stands up to Weightless, at least... which I would consider the best track from ATL's new effort.
I must say though, I have just been a huge fan of HTL's sound since they hit the scene way back. Even with the line-up change, they are going strong, and I find their newest stuff just as enjoyable, which I see as a small miracle.
Lacey's voice is freaking AMAZING!!! She's in a new band called The Best Week Ever. They just posted there first song. Check it out at myspace.com/thebestweekever.
Also, I thought the HTL EP was good. The two songs they wrote were awesome, but I didn't like the 2 covers. The 2 acoustic songs were great too. The songs written by HTL were awesome. The other ones not so much.