With The Punches - Seams and Stitches
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Record Label: Doghouse Records
Two summers ago, With The Punches' Seams and Stitches would have been an anthem for me. The record is breakneck in nature, the punk drum beats and guitar hooks nary taking a breather throughout its 38 minutes. Jesse Vadala's gritty, snotty vocals deliver memorable one-liners that seem to exist for the purpose of yelling out in unison on road trips. When the band isn’t racing to the finish line tempo-wise, like on "I Told You Already," it brings out shades of You Me and Everyone We Know and other poppier bands in that vein.
Like I said, two summers ago…I would have been all over this. And I think that’s the best and most fair comment I can make on this record. There are some people who will fawn over Seams and Stitches, and that makes sense. They should fawn over it; they should wear it out. There are others, like me, who have perhaps just slightly grown out of the typical double-time pop-punk that the Newburgh, NY natives present here. Actually, that’s not entirely true – there are a couple of "generic" pop-punk records that I’m still swooning over this summer (see: Forever Came Calling), but With The Punches is lacking on Seams and Stitches.
The moderate catchiness of tracks like the opening "Riverside" feel raw and real, but just because a band wants to be perceived as a punk-first pop-punk band doesn't mean it’s going to work out in execution. The songwriting is pop-centric, but the album's "raw" production isn’t geared to highlight With The Punches’ strengths. The rhythm section is prominent enough in the mix, but things just feel…off. Even the tracks that I was looking forward to being anchors on Seam and Stitches, like "Harvard On the Hudson," released way back in January, aren’t fully satisfying. The group re-recorded the song, with one of the results being an unfortunate choice of a vocal effect that does quite the opposite of provide a refreshed version of a song we’re familiar with. It may seem like a small change when listening to the two versions side-by-side, but if the entirety of Seams and Stitches was recorded and produced like the January version of "Harvard On the Hudson," the record would be twice as intriguing.
There’s nothing wrong with being a straightforward pop-punk band, but the mystery is so far gone from Seams and Stitches that I struggle to find a reason to hit play on the record when I have the freedom of listening to similar albums that hit the mark more. If that sounds harsh, perhaps it is – but delving into repeat listens of painstakingly mediocre tracks like "Home In A Lighthouse" and "Face Value" (what are those backing vocals at the end of "Face Value" supposed to offer?) reaffirms the notion that there’s nothing new being offered here. You've heard this whole album before – it's a less exciting version of New Found Glory's self-titled, Fireworks' We Are Everywhere EP, The Story So Far's Under Soil and Dirt – so whether or not you like it depends entirely on whether you're looking for something unique to be brought to the table. Like I said, there will be plenty of fans who literally and metaphorically pile onto With The Punches.
Seams and Stitches is not without redeeming moments. The aforementioned "I Told You Already" is the uncontested standout, and it's on this track where With The Punches finds the formula that it might be best suited to. This band has proven its worth with its past releases, and on "I Told You Already," it seems like the group is more self-aware that it should play up the pop and throw in some softer musicianship. Vadala's vocals shouldn’t always be shredded, and slowing the tempo down and letting in some increased production value to future releases might go a long way for the group. "Bad Pennies" and the nostalgia-inducing closing title track are other high points to take away from Seams and Stitches, but overall, the record is a disappointment. Making the jump from EP to LP isn't the easiest thing for a band like this, and maybe With The Punches is just better in small doses.
Man I was waiting for a review of this album and I figured it would be you to review it, but I really dont think this deserves a 55%. obviously if you dont like it, you dont like it, and music moves people differently, but 55 strikes me low for somebody who gave Man Overboard a 70 and This Time Next Year An 80 late last year. I enjoy this album way more than those, but just different tastes I guess.
Now for my thoughts on the record. I will give you that the production/sound quality is disappointing. tones/mix just are subpar in my opinion. Generally lacking in power and definition overall. It really bothers me at times when listening because I know the record couldve been so much better, but its not like these guys have the cash to afford big names yet, so I try my best to ignore that aspect. Second the lack of their bassist/back up vocalist who left (or got kicked out?) really showed. He was the glue (imo) on their last EP, and this album just lacked good back up vocals/harmonies sometimes. some songs didnt do anything for me but I also have only listened like 3 or 4 times whole way through.
However, I came in nervous and thinking the album would be a let down, and was pleasently surprised with the album overall. Really glad I bought it. I loved Dustin's guitar work on the album (think hes the lead guitarist). Although Jesse's range isnt all that wide, I love his voice and think his tone is perfect for this genre/album and comes up really great vocal melodies. Some of the chorus' on this album are excellent. Songs that really stand out to me so far are Face Value (it killed me reading the comment about this song being "painstakingly mediocre" haha), Riverside, Cags, I Told You Already, and Bad Pennies. Love the guitar solos in Riverside and I Told You Already.
Since its 4 in hte morning and ive written enough ill just finish by saying really hope this album gets them the recognition they deserve because these guys should be way bigger. hopefully bigger bands like the wonder years will start taking them out with them. Id give this album probably a 75%, but a great debut full length fro these guys and hopefully theyll have more to come. Love this band.
I saw the score and started loading my guns to put you on blast, but I'm glad you made it a strong point to say that it's simply not your cup of tea, style-wise, anymore. I still look forward to hearing this.
Album deserves at least a 70. Especially when put on par with other artists that you have reviewed. It happens though. Impossible to have every review be spot on. I personally loved this CD. Really catchy, tight and fast. Try not to let this review scare ya away if ya havent checked these Dudes out!
Yeah, definitely deserves more than 55. I'd probably switch the scores for the Man Overboard S/T and this album, haha. It's a fun listen. but one thing I find really wierd is that at the moment I feel as though it grates when I'm not listening to it, but then when I do listen I'm like "this is way better than I thought I remembered it being". There's not a single bad song on this record, despite the production. They could've done with switching it up a bit, however, I tend to skip Letting Go because the rest of the album's already done what the song achieves, if you get me. I reckon they should've made it an acoustic song to keep it fresh, to be honest. I also feel like it needed a heavier song along with Harvard and New York Minute, as the way he works his voice on those two songs on this record is just fantastic. New Harvard has some timing issues at points and a lack of oomph compared to the original, but still prefer it to the original by virtue of how much better his voice sounds. Overall, fun record, and he's right, kids will fall all over this.
I'm not gonna mention the score (even though I think it should be higher). I'm happy you backed up your arguement, but IMO this is going to be a contender for AOTY. With The Punches deserve to be huge.
I've always thought this band stood out in the speed department. The guitar parts on this new record are also miles and miles above the band's previous work. Something that's really been getting to me in not only reviews of this record but many other pop-punk records is the marking of it being "good, but generic." Pop punk hasn't changed much the past few years but it seems like everyone's opinion of it has. I've always seen that as an easy way to bow out, but that's just me.
Like Thomas implied, it's all subjective in the end. This record would get an 80% and I'll definitely be replaying it for more than just this summer.