Go Radio - Close the Distance
Record Label: Fearless Records
Release Date: September 18, 2012
Go Radio's second album, Close the Distance, is a beautiful concoction of musical melody, proficient percussion, and lovely lyrics. Every note and line is selected with grace and maturity, presenting a beautiful product. Whenever I hear from a reviewer that an album by a band I love is "different" it concerns me. However, to date, I've actually been quite satisfied. This is in that same vein. This is a step of polish above Lucky Street, which I must say, was already a pretty polished album. When I say it is a level of polish above, it is still VERY Go Radio. This may be different, in that it sounds, perhaps, more seasoned, but it still definitely sounds like what I would call "Go Radio."
The album starts with a punch: the choral intro of "I Won't Lie." The start of a long list of favorites, ending in me giving up on favoring anything. The pace and punch of the song and chorus pull the listener in, immediately. The style is a bit more mature feeling right from the start. It's catchy and polished. If I had stations around here that played anything of this sort, I could easily hear it on a countdown. The only immaturity of the song is the "I will die if you leave." A bit cliche and hyperbolic, but it is done with such a melodic feel that it's hard to concern oneself about it too much. It is balanced with the lyrics "You are the way my heart beats/you are the words my tongue speaks." The song was a reassurance that this was still going to be the Go Radio I loved.
"Baltimore" continues the theme of what I can only call "matured 90s rock." It uses similar instrumental styles to a lot of songs I liked in the 90s, but there is some sort of buffing, shining, cleaning up of that style. Jason's voice is brilliant and the vocals on this track really show his range. The bass and guitar work together with the orchestral tracks to provide a wonderful instrumental. The beat is consistent, but uses cymbals beautifully, creating a wonderful punch.
The song "Collide" was the first studio song from the album I heard. I was thrilled with the result, but wasn't ready to call it good until I heard more of the album. "Collide" is basically the bridge between Lucky Street and Close the Distance. It is a wonderful song, and also radio material. "You be the reason/I'll be the rhyme" is a nice play on an old cliche. The production and instrumentation are wonderful, and the vocals are Jason's, and as such, they're fantastic.
"Go To Hell" is the radio single. The second track I heard, and I was a bit off-put by it, it's not quite as mature as the rest of the album, yet I can't quite call it immature. The song is a typical breakup song, but it emphasizes "I'm okay by myself" instead of playing on the 'I found someone new' that is expected of vitriolic breakup songs, and it has musical details that keep it from being outright immature. It's the more adult style of breakup track, one that doesn't wallow in the breakup, one that doesn't seek the next relationship, but simply says 'it's over and I'm ready to move on.'
"Lost and Found" is a dynamic track, with varying intensity, and a fitting pace. It plays with loud and soft very well. It goes from a powerful chorus to only an acoustic guitar and Jason's voice, back to the forceful vocals of the rest of the song. It's musically complicated, and it deals with both the booming and the mild quite well. Jason's voice is fantastic on this track, as well.
The title track follows. It's an inspiring, "We're all in this together" kind of song. It has a great build and release style. The verses are legato and wafty, leading to a bit sharper notes as it approaches a strong, almost authoritative chorus. Jason expresses his global hope with the lines "When you say sing to me/I will sing like everyone is listening/Like current company/Thinks the words we speak right now mean everything." It's a beautiful, sincere track.
"What If You Don't" is the very first song I ever heard from the album, played live during their Lucky Street tour. It's classic piano Jason. It's pained, it's concerned, it's vulnerable. It sings a fear that the subject has different desires than the singer. It sings defeated, asking if it would "be alright" if his love were for the subject. It's weak, but not in the "insignificant" sense, but in the weary sense. As I voiced earlier, it's vulnerable, and that's probably the best word to describe it.
"Things I Don't See" sounds perfect for a film soundtrack. It sounds like something for the credits of a film. It just has that vibe. It's a good song, it has a nice melody and a good rhythm. Steve really makes use of the cymbals in the song, to good effect. I definitely would not be surprised if I heard it on a movie soundtrack. In fact, I'd be delighted.
"The Ending" is a regretful song. It seems filled with an emotion of cognitive dissonance. "'Cause my pride is built like a champion/but my heart's filled with regret" sings the chorus. One thing I noted immediately, upon first listen, was that the lead-in to the song sounds almost like a Linkin Park track, with its high pitched ringing choir and synth percussion. The song still isn't "not Go Radio" but it was an interesting choice, and I liked it.
The song "Over Me" has a line that I just love for some reason. "All we need's a set of wings." I don't know what it is about the line, but it just hits me. The song itself seems to be about relationships over distance, specifically due to travel. A fitting topic for a touring band. Not the first of its type, but a good example of the theme. It's a beautiful track, and has great instrumentation.
Close the Distance ends with the sullen, yearning track "Hear Me Out." A building power ballad of the loss of a loved one. It's soaking in this passionate remorse that really tugs at the heart. With lyrics like "And I had heart but it left with your breath/And the notes that you said," combined with the broken, lonely voice Jason uses, sorrowful melodies and steady, pulsing beat at the turning point, the song is a powerful ending, exiting with the sound of leaves dragging along in the wind. It's almost chilling to hear on headphones or with a good sound system.
The bonus tracks available are an acoustic of "Go To Hell" and "I Won't Lie". Both are done well, no need to expand on them, my thoughts on the songs proper are above. The additional original tracks are "Live, Learn, Let Go", which has more of Jason's wonderful writing, with one of my favorite lines in "all I want to be is anything." I don't know why, but I just love how it strikes me.
The final bonus track is "If That's Tonight". Another song I love the feel of. It's just a song to listen to while driving. I don't really like when there are bonus tracks that can only be accessed one way or another (in this case, iTunes special tracks). On the bright side, they're not the type where one has to buy the whole album to get them, they can be purchased separately. These additional tracks are all nice additions, and all match the style and feel of the rest of the album. If you are a fan of Go Radio, check it out. If you're looking for a band to try out, this is a good one to pick.
Reasoning for my scoring:
Vocals: 9.0 -- Jason has one of my favorite voices in music. He kills it every time he sings.
Musicianship: 8.0 -- There are obviously still some of the expected powerpop tropes, and themes, but it's done with quality and intention.
Lyrics: 8.75 -- Again, some expected themes, and some lyrics are not quite up to par with the rest, but it is all clever and carefully chosen.
Production: 8.25 -- The audio quality is wonderful, the mixing is good, and the ambient selections (obvious example, the closing) are flawless. My only major complaint is that, unlike Lucky Street, there's no spotlight on Matt's bass. He's much more support on this album. Lucky Street had a couple cases where you could specifically hear the bass, Close the Distance, sadly, lacks that. Likewise, Alex doesn't really get a focal point. Perhaps, being a percussionist, I'm just more tuned to drums, but I heard a lot of Jason and Steve. I'm not complaining, both are brilliant, but that's only half the band.
Creativity: 7.5 -- It's definitely still within the realm of "Go Radio music," which isn't a bad thing. It has a couple cliché topics. It's still within the band's comfort zone, so I can't say it's excessively creative for the band, but it's not in a bad way; it's still beautiful.
Lasting Value: 9.5 -- For me, personally, it's everlasting. For others, it depends on their musical preference. This is definitely an album that even people who aren't a fan of the style can credit the band for the talent of its members. In that way, I feel anyone could find it memorable.
Reviewer Tilt: 10.0 -- What can I say? Go Radio is one of my absolute favorite bands, and this album is absolutely amazing. I would not be able to give it a lower score if I were giving a wholly subjective rating.
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Okay so I finally finished it. My God, I love Jason's vocals but I'm very upset that the band is riding too much on them a bit too much. I find the incorporation of gang vocals interesting because Mayday Parade just did similarly in their previous album. I like the piano, but it really really makes the record as a whole extremely cheesy. The band is sounding too much like piano driven mainstream rock and that's not a good thing.
My verdict is that this is a 5/10. Not much worse than Lucky Street (5.5/10). It is more consistent but has less standout tracks (Swear It is such a good song). The choruses are huge, but not memorable, for some reason. As a whole, I greatly prefer Do Overs and 2nd Chances. It is, in my opinion, their most consistent and catchy (and heavy) album.
Yeah sorry bub, this album isn't nearly as good as the other Go radio material. Lancaster "maturing" isn't the best thing to ever happen to him. The album is good, don't get me wrong, but come on. This isn't the same guy who wrote, "And you dropped a note and we changed keys, you changed yourself and I changed me, I really didn't see us singing through this, and you screamed the bridge and I cried the verse and our chorus came out unrehearsed, and you smiled the whole way through it, I guess maybe thats whats worse" like he did in Mayday, or sing to the point of goosebumps like he did on the last minute and nine seconds of "Letters and Love notes" Even the last album "Lucky Street" had a fire to it, and that one was imperfect. No, this sounds like a band trying too hard to break into the mainstream radio waves. This will forever be my favorite band of all time and Lancaster will forever be my favorite singer/musician, but even I have enough of a sack to realize what this album was, sort of a bummer.
even I have enough of a sack to realize what this album was, sort of a bummer.
Enough of a sack? It's a differing opinion. I genuinely love this album. I LOVED Letters and Love Notes, and you quoted one of my favorite lines from Mayday, but this, to me, is genuinely good, as well.
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