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Menzingers, The - Chamberlain Waits Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 8
Musicianship 9
Lyrics 8.75
Production 8
Creativity 6.25
Lasting Value 8
Reviewer Tilt 8.25
Final Verdict: 80%
Member Ratings
Vocals 9.08
Musicianship 8.83
Lyrics 9.21
Production 9.33
Creativity 8.79
Lasting Value 9.08
Reviewer Tilt 9
Average: 90%

Menzingers, The - Chamberlain Waits

Reviewed by: Chris Fallon (04/12/10)
The Menzingers - Chamberlain Waits
Release Date: April 13, 2010
Record Label: Red Scare


The 2010 comedy Date Night is about a couple's wild journey into the city one evening where they continually run into obstacle after obstacle, essentially postponing their night of innocent fun and reigniting their love in the process. The 1977 comedy The Out-of-Towners contains a similar plot, however this time around, the couple are trying to survive the manic big city while sightseeing, eventually running into a slew of wacky characters all while reigniting their love in the process. Not quite the same, but enough for a viewer of both to notice the similarities.

The same idea can often apply to music. Despite the makeup of different individuals from different backgrounds, influence always tends to seep its way into just about any band's music. It can be a positive and a negative. Positive, because it's easy to relate to through familiarity; negative, because it can be skewed as plagiarism. The Menzingers are certainly not being accused of blatantly ripping anyone off, but on their sophomore release, Chamberlain Waits, the influences come up frequently, and it takes a bit of the sheen off the previous buzz that has been circulating over the band for the past year or two.

The first two songs in particular remind one of the Gaslight Anthem or Against Me, "Deep Sleep" contains verses that have slight resemblance to Tiger Army, and "Come Here Often" could have been an Anti-Flag/Dillinger Four collaboration. Naturally, influence is a common occurance and is more serendipitous than thievery. The Menzingers are young Philly kids who are going to leave their mark, and as lovely as Chamberlain Waits is in concept, it leaves something to be desired. The album isn't their '59 Sound or their Greatest Story Ever Told -- but that isn't to insinuate it's a disaster. In fact, it's a step in the right direction melodically, lyrically and a sure implication that the guys have found a niche in sincere punk rock without coming across as loudmouth scholars with a chip on their shoulder.

Produced by Matt Allison, who has worked with Alkaline Trio and Less Than Jake (just to name a few), the album feasts upon the band's true strengths: songwriting and musicianship. Greg Barnett and Tom May swap vocal duties over the course of the record, and their voices are evidently strong -- not just in terms of actual pitch, but in what they use their voices for. "Who's Your Partner" is mid-tempo rock n' roll highlighted by the calming melody that contains a perfect refrain: "Let the simple songs get caught in our heads." Modest, light and, above all, honest, it's what the Menzingers are influenced by and live by themselves. "I Was Born" rolls along at a feverish pace, like the best song Tom Gabel never got the chance to write, with Barnett candidly confessing his sins ("I was raised inside a Bible / I was living on life support"). The vocals might be a tad grating to some, but in this line of work, they're bare essentials; it fits what they do, and Barnett's wails stick out like a sore thumb... in a good way. "No We Didn't" kicks out a memorable melody with a slam-bang vocal thrashing behind it, although it's so damn enjoyable, you want more of it before it comes to a screeching halt; "Time Tables" has a wonderful distorted country riff that coincides with a steady drumbeat; "Male Call" is whiskey-soaked bar-room country punk, while the following track feels like it would be right at home on a Lawrence Arms record; and "Home Outgrown" is like Broadway Calls mimicking the Clash.

For longtime fans, it might be a jarring experience. The band obviously wants to move in a more melodically-balanced direction, but keep their aggressive punk roots. "Rivalries" and the title track are songs that demonstrate a band attempting to grow out of their comfort zone, and to some fans of their first record, it may sound like shlock that feasts upon the current "orgcore" trend. Truth is, it's precisely what works for the band and as they build up their own trademark sound, it will all come together and allow the Menzingers to be admired rather than be influenced. Don't mistake the criticism for stark dislike -- Chamberlain Waits has promise, and grows with you (which is a testament to the band's talents); it simply lacks its own distinct identity and with their next release, be prepared: the Menzingers will almost definitely be leaving Waits in its own dust.

Recommended if You LikeThe Lawrence Arms; The Gaslight Anthem; Against Me!; Nothington; Broadway Calls; How Dare You; Tiger Army
Choice Cuts"No We Didn't," "I Was Born" and "Chamberlain Waits"


Online VitalsOfficial Myspace | Official Facebook Page
PurchaseAmazon MP3 | iTunes
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 17
12:37 AM on 04/12/10
#2
The Revisionist
Loves shittyass pop music
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I take it from the review that this is better than A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology or whatever that's called? I think that there are five or six songs on that album that are killer, and the rest are merely ok at best.
12:44 AM on 04/12/10
#3
Chris Fallon
Boom.
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I take it from the review that this is better than A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology or whatever that's called? I think that there are five or six songs on that album that are killer, and the rest are merely ok at best.
I think it's substantially better -- at first, this album disappointed me, but I still thought it was better than that record. First album had very little staying power with me.
01:16 AM on 04/12/10
#4
E. Clectic
Quit these pretentious things.
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From everything I've heard about this album I would have thought it was going to be a sleeper for the end of the year lists.

Guess not?
05:12 AM on 04/12/10
#5
brandnewsheep
Walking Is Still Honest
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What i'd heard of the album i've really enjoyed, but I hate to judge an album on a myspace stream. I love 'I was born' though. I can see it being one of the albums that I really enjoy this year.
06:02 AM on 04/12/10
#6
timb89
Australian Music Roundup
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I think it's substantially better -- at first, this album disappointed me, but I still thought it was better than that record. First album had very little staying power with me.
can you explain to me reviewer tilt?
06:19 AM on 04/12/10
#7
prefix-core
Andy Adores Alliteration
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From everything I've heard about this album I would have thought it was going to be a sleeper for the end of the year lists.

Guess not?

I think it still stands a chance. It's a really, really solid album. If you dig Broadway Calls, the Loved Ones, or early Gaslight Anthem, there's no reason you shouldn't be able to dig it.

It stands above most of the other "orgcore" stuff for sure. It just doesn't re-define music and (according to the review--unless I'm interpretting it wrong) wears its influences on it's sleeves a tad too much. I tend to disagree, but y'know...Another discussion for another thread. Haha.
08:30 AM on 04/12/10
#8
Charles777
Feeling groovy
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I'm really liking this album. I hope they get big.
09:34 AM on 04/12/10
#9
screamoutmyname
through being cool
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can't wait to hear the full album
11:15 AM on 04/12/10
Mr_Ian
Shut up you fucking baby.
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From everything I've heard about this album I would have thought it was going to be a sleeper for the end of the year lists.

Guess not?
It's one reviewers opinion, listen to it yourself! I personally can't stop listening to it - Time Tables is my favourite song of the year so far.
11:23 AM on 04/12/10
Saves7The7Day
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these are great guys....and put on amazing live shows, they deserve all the recognition in the world, im looking forward to picking this one up, i really liked the direction they were going with with hold on dodge.
11:35 AM on 04/12/10
owiseone35
You need human heat
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This is a really good album don't let the numbers fool you guys. For if the creativity wasn't so low this would've been a 83-85% release. I'm really enjoying this CD yet have a feeling that as soon as something better comes out i'll just kinda forget about it. Good CD, I'll see how long it stays with me though.
02:25 PM on 04/12/10
Chris Fallon
Boom.
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can you explain to me reviewer tilt?
Sure thing. Reviewer tilt is essentially the author's own individual score on the album. Usually, when all the ratings are added up, they don't often lead to the same results we agree with. So, in hindsight, my personal "rating" for this album would be an 82-83%. It usually varies by a few points, give or take.
04:12 AM on 04/13/10
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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Definitely going to check this out. They've played in Gainesville a couple times this year and I've been meaning to give them a listen.
09:26 AM on 04/13/10
concealer611
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Time Tables is a great song. I think the album is great and will more than likely be one of my favorites this year. Builds on the EP for sure. Production is good, and some of the songs are still growing on me.
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