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Valencia - Dancing With A Ghost Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.5
Lyrics 8.25
Production 8.5
Creativity 8.25
Lasting Value 8.5
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 86%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.58
Musicianship 8.11
Lyrics 8.09
Production 8.2
Creativity 7.83
Lasting Value 8.2
Reviewer Tilt 8.09
Average: 82%
Inside AP.net

Valencia - Dancing With A Ghost

Reviewed by: Thomas Nassiff (10/12/10)
Valencia - Dancing With A Ghost
Release Date: October 12, 2010
Record Label: I Surrender Records


One of the themes on Valencia's third full-length record, Dancing With A Ghost, is looking for something that's already right in front of you. That theme, expressed on closer "Stop Searching", could be used to express the timeline of my feelings toward the album.
Dancing With A Ghost was among my most anticipated albums of 2010 as soon as Valencia announced it was working on a follow-up to the wildly adored We All Need A Reason To Believe. I couldn't wait to get more of the Valencia sound I had grown to love, the pop-punk choruses with the underlying classic rock/Americana influences. But when I spun through their second I Surrender Records release, it wasn't what I was expecting, and I feared a letdown as big as the two losses my Florida Gators have encountered thus far this season. It was good...but it wasn't more of the same.

However, after I erased all the preconceptions I had about this record and spun through it again, I began to appreciate the nuances, both big and small, that make this record phenomenal. Valencia grew as a band, both musically and lyrically, and it was obvious that I grew up with them. Whether it's "Still Need You Around (Lost Without You)" or "Somewhere I Belong", both of which are far cries from the normal Valencia sound so many grew to love, or the rough edges that surround "Consider Me Dead" or "Stop Searching", this album has ten songs that stand on their own as well as they do as a whole.

Each song is unique and different, and listening to them out of order suggests that they might not fit in together, but the way the songs are tracked on Dancing With A Ghost gives the album a flow that feels natural. The record kicks off with "Dancing With A Ghost" and "Spinning Out", the two songs that were released as teasers. Both are upbeat with catchy melodies, somewhat similar to older Valencia but with a more polished sound and a tad less aggression. The sound works for the band, as guitarists Brendan Walter and JD Perry turn in their most impressive performances to accompany Shane Henderson's improved vocals. Henderson has always been the most identifiable part of Valencia, and his soaring vocals are back on Dancing With A Ghost and stronger than ever.

The aforementioned "Still Need You Around" and "Somewhere I Belong" showcase a new side of this band that hasn't been heard before. These two songs are more poppy than anything on an earlier release, and the former even takes on a bit of an R&B feel before crescendoing with an emotional gang vocal outro. The latter features strings and a welcome female guest spot from Simon Wilcox. The track is full of heavy-hitting parts despite its subtle nature and may be the best example of the progression this band has exhibited.

"Consider Me Dead", with its background screams in the chorus, is another solid example of progression. This song is arena-sized, with low-key verses that make the chorus stand out even more. It's the sort of song that might not be Valencia's norm, but many probably would want to hear more of. Its production is excellent courtesy of Mark Trombino, and its extended outro leads into another strong track in "Losing Sleep". The choruses to this track are a bit more straightforward pop punk, and this one-two punch around the midpoint of Dancing With A Ghost makes the record sound enormous. The type of enormous that Anberlin could play to a sold-out arena or that Jimmy Eat World could contribute to top 40 radio stations. In addition, the chorus of "Losing Sleep" shows the lyrical growth of Henderson & Co., with its cries of "Give me the chance to speak my mind / My opinions are the social kind / If it's you for you and I for I / Then one of us is going to leave here blind / You know I won't give up without a fight / Even if I'm the one who's wrong, and you're who's right." The entire record showcases heavier, more meaningful lyrics than Valencia's past releases.

The edgy "Friday Night" shows a storytelling style, bringing back more of the classic rock influences but with some dark tones mixed in. It matches closer "Stop Searching" with its punk undertones, but the closer brings in very punk-influenced "Hey!" cries that sound like they could have been borrowed from a Green Day song. Finally, "The Way" combats "Consider Me Dead" for the best song on the record. A riff that infiltrates your mind more than the delightful smell of cinnamon in mid-October kicks off a song that actually brings in the catchiest chorus on Dancing With A Ghost.

This is a band setting the bar. This is a band demanding your attention. This is a band finding its sound and settling into it with a comfort and grace that accompanies some major-league swagger. While Valencia is nothing but humble, it's a ballsy move to go from the sound that saw wide success on a major label back to I Surrender with a sound that might not please every single old fan. Fans will complain whether they get something that is too much of the same or something that's too different, and this is something that Valencia knew. However, instead of retreating to the safety of a sound that it knew would sell records, Valencia went out and created the album that it wanted, and pulled it off marvelously.

Dancing With A Ghost is a reason to get excited for this genre. It is a top ten release so far this year and it is, with it's oh-so-suitable artwork, something that can be related to personally with audible and visual components. With a hidden song like the bruising "Pieces", it's clear that Valencia have more to offer than meets the eye. Hopefully its something that people will discover for themselves.

Recommended If You LikeWe All Need A Reason To Believe meets Jimmy Eat World's Bleed American.
Follow Me On TwitterIt increases your chances of getting into heaven by at least 6%.
Bare Essentials1. Dancing With A Ghost
2. Spinning Out
3. Still Need You Around (Lost Without You)
4. Consider Me Dead
5. Losing Sleep
6. Friday Night
7. Somewhere I Belong
8. Days Go By
9. The Way
10. Stop Searching
11. Pieces (Hidden Track)
Produced By: Mark Trombino, Run Time: 36 minutes (41 minutes with "Pieces")
Star Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Myspace, yo!
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 119
11:30 PM on 10/12/10
#2
stabler823
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Beautiful.
11:32 PM on 10/12/10
#3
Cody Nelson
Your mouth to God's south.
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'Stop Searching?'
11:33 PM on 10/12/10
#4
HometownHero
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Quote:
hat make this record phemonal.

Also why are you plugging your twitter in your reviews?

Anyway great album.
11:34 PM on 10/12/10
#5
billyboatkid
The Protagonist of Loneliness
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Totally agree with your review. The flow is awesome.

Only song I don't really care for is the self titled track. Other than that no complaints.
11:35 PM on 10/12/10
#6
RyanFTW
ATTACK POP PUNK
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All right folks, put on your "Complain about the score" caps!
11:37 PM on 10/12/10
#7
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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Really well written review.

I didn't like this album very much at first but it grew on me exponentially and now I listen to it everyday.

Still no WANARTB, but it's a great album. I'm glad vocals has your highest rating.

If anything I thought the album was underwhelming. Knowing the unbelievable song writing abilities Shane showed us with Promise of Redemption I expected this album to just blow me out of the water.
11:40 PM on 10/12/10
#8
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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All right folks, put on your "Complain about the score" caps!
Are people going to complain that it's too high, or too low?
11:43 PM on 10/12/10
#9
Spenny
Hearts without chains.
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All right folks, put on your "Complain about the score" caps!
>_>

That is actually what I was going to mention. After Thomas gave Illuminaudio 89%, to give this 86 is kind of interesting. 86% is a great score, but it definitely deserves to be in the 90s.

Without a doubt the band's best album. Takes a bit of time to click, but once it does it is impossible to turn off. Also shows the band is willing to grow. They could have easily released WANARTB II, but they decided to take a different path, and I respect them greatly for that.
11:46 PM on 10/12/10
RyanFTW
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Are people going to complain that it's too high, or too low?
I think there is going to be a vast majority in the too high section, mostly because people are fucking trolls and they'll complain about anything that isn't what they like.

But i think the number that think it's too low will have better arguments towards their claim.
11:47 PM on 10/12/10
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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>_>

That is actually what I was going to mention. After Thomas gave Illuminaudio 89%, to give this 86 is kind of interesting. 86% is a great score, but it definitely deserves to be in the 90s.

Without a doubt the band's best album. Takes a bit of time to click, but once it does it is impossible to turn off. Also shows the band is willing to grow. They could have easily released WANARTB II, but they decided to take a different path, and I respect them greatly for that.
I'm an idiot when it comes to scores and this is definitely better than Illuminaudio. BUT it's not as good to me as WANARTB and Illuminaudio was better than i was expecting, so the scores reflect that I guess. That's why I hate the scores, too many outside factors reflect it, especially for me I guess. This > Illuminaudio.
11:47 PM on 10/12/10
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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I think there is going to be a vast majority in the too high section, mostly because people are fucking trolls and they'll complain about anything that isn't what they like.

But i think the number that think it's too low will have better arguments towards their claim.
Agreed. Personally pretty fitting with my opinion on it.
11:47 PM on 10/12/10
Thomas Nassiff
resuscitation of the year
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Also why are you plugging your twitter in your reviews?

Anyway great album.
I've been doing that for a while now, it's fun.
11:47 PM on 10/12/10
vivatoto56
EB was left out
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I'm an idiot when it comes to scores and this is definitely better than Illuminaudio. BUT it's not as good to me as WANARTB and Illuminaudio was better than i was expecting, so the scores reflect that I guess. That's why I hate the scores, too many outside factors reflect it, especially for me I guess. This > Illuminaudio.
So glad to hear you say that, haha.
11:50 PM on 10/12/10
RyanFTW
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Agreed. Personally pretty fitting with my opinion on it.
Still think we should have a "Flagged for douchebaggery" button on the site, but I fear I would probably get flagged for every other comment I say.
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