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05:52 AM on 07/08/13
#1
Craig Manning
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Good stuff, Drew. I'm glad you could get past the issues you've had with this band in that past to enjoy their music again. Score is right on the money.
06:00 AM on 07/08/13
#2
Craig Manning
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I can't wait for people to hear this either. And I know like half the thread has already heard it, but still.
06:08 AM on 07/08/13
#3
Craig Manning
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I also go out on a lot of late night highway drives.
09:38 AM on 07/08/13
#4
Craig Manning
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I don't understand why this band gets so much guff for writing "similar" sounding songs. Every band has this problem. Very few completely change their sound.

Doesn't bother me since I like all their songs. If it ain't broke don't fix it. Just tweek (twerk) it.
This. I feel like The Wonder Years can get away with it, but The Dangerous Summer really can't.
11:17 AM on 07/08/13
#5
Craig Manning
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Different fanbases with different expectations/standards.

I guess. I've never considered them to be that far apart.

That's the exact reason I'm dying for this record. I just know it's going to be the perfect record for that. I just want to fill my tank and squeeze at least two listens in.

It's not as good for night drives as the last two were, but it's still pretty killer.

There's far more diversity on the new TWY album than the new TDS album. I didn't like the earlier WY albums because of the lack of range or tempo on the albums -- it was too normalized -- and they changed that up on their last album enough to keep me interested. TDS' new album tends to get me lost and forget if it's one long song or an album of individual songs, no ebb and flow. No crescendo. Similar "talking the chorus" or way too similar melodies in too many songs stacked next to each other.

I'd agree that The Greatest Generation is more diverse than Golden Record, but not by much. I appreciate when bands can show off a lot of sonic range in their songwriting, and I feel like The Wonder Years made a move toward that for the first time with this latest release. The first half of The Greatest Generation is damn near spotless, and balances the soft and loud dynamics of the band perfectly. The second half loses steam, either with songs that didn't need to be on the record because they don't fit ("Madelyn") or with the kind of monotony they've struggled with in the past. I mean, you can call that album diverse all you want, but they still manage to have a reprise of just about every song on the record during the closer, and none of the interpolations sound unnatural or stretched.

Golden Record benefits from being shorter and leaner. And I can see how parts of it can blend together for you, but certainly not the whole album. "Catholic Girls" sounds nothing like "Knives," which sounds nothing like "Anchor." There's definitely a crescendo from point A to point B to point C, and I feel like it reaches its climax naturally. I'd actually argue that it's a more versatile album than War Paint was, something I think is ultimately to its detriment because the flow isn't as good.
12:38 PM on 07/08/13
#6
Craig Manning
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I'd say by a lot: Soupy has more vocal range, the melodies are more dynamic, and the songs themselves end up being more diverse ... "Golden Record" borders on monotony at times ... in a way that the band hadn't in the past. The highs may be higher ... but the lows are definitely lower and more pronounced as they drone.

I'm pretty sure the vocal ranges are almost identical. Soupy sings a high B flat during the climax to "Screen Door," AJ has high B's all over "Drowning." Neither sings notes that are particularly low.

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But they change all those songs to fit in the closer ... they're not cut out of the original songs and placed in.

The changes are extremely minute. Some melodies get one or two notes changed, others just get slowed down, and others are quoted directly. It's actually quite artful how they do it, but the fact that the pieces fit together so well speaks to the inherent similarity that the songs shared in the first place. I'm not trying to tear that record down: it's currently in my top ten, and I could easily see myself liking it more than Golden Record come the end of the year. I just feel like you are being particularly hard on this band for doing something that so many other outfits in the pop-punk or pop-rock scenes do with every album. There's only so much you can do with four chords and a verse-chorus-bridge pop song structure, and I have always thought this band handled those constraints better than many from their scene.

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But that's because "Knives" is the outlier in the album ... also arguably the best song ... due to this diversity (the two outlier songs are the best on the album -- the other being "Miles Apart"). "Catholic Girls" and "Anchor" sound like you could cut the gap between them and not realize you've changed songs. Where is the crescendo? Where is the climax?

Haha, I actually think it's the weak point, but that's a different argument entirely. I don't think "Catholic Girls" and "Anchor" sound even remotely alike. And the climax is "Anchor," definitely. That song couldn't be anywhere but at the end of a record.
06:26 AM on 07/09/13
#7
Craig Manning
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Don't know how you could listen to both albums and say that ... AJ's voice is clearly on the outs on this album, and he's struggling to even hold notes. I think it's part of the reason they had to write an album that sounds so monotone and flat -- cause he can't take his voice into anything else for a chorus that stands out. He ends up speak/singing through too much of it.

I don't think picking out two places where they sing the same note is indicative of vocal range. But I simply can't agree that both singers have the same range after listening to the albums back to back. AJ's voice sounds shot. I'm legit worried if he doesn't start taking care of it that the band won't even be able to perform their old material live in the same manner as it was recorded.

Well, that's really all vocal range is. It's the extreme pitches on either end of the range. So picking out what (I think) are the highest, most intense vocal patches on each record actually is relevant. It's also extremely difficult to judge vocal range on record, because you never know if any given note is something a singer can do live or if it's just a trick of the studio.

I think you are thinking of vocal color and timbre, in which case I would agree with you. AJ does sound like he's pummeled his voice over the past few years, and it's really not surprising. He's never had solid vocal technique at all. (Soupy is a shouty vocalist as well, but I've never thought his delivery sounded as potentially damaging as AJ's). I do think his raspy vocals work more often than not, and I would disagree that they wrote differently because he was incapable of taking his voice into a strong chorus: "Miles Apart" is proof enough that he can still nail a chorus. Also, on the whole, this is the most vocally demanding album they've written. I can sing every note on the past two records from start to finish. This goes into some higher and heavier territory, and I absolutely think the raspier color in his voice is intentional. So what I think is that he may have damaged his voice in the process of making this record, but I absolutely feel like, if the band had known he was struggling vocally, they would have written songs they were in lower keys and not so grating on the voice (like John Mayer did with Born & Raised). I feel like writing "flat" songs without hooks would not have been their recourse, haha.


Quote:
But the changes are why they fit together ...


I don't think so. I think the fact that they change things to make them fit is why they fit together so well. If you cut off the corner of a puzzle piece, and then it goes into the puzzle, you can't claim that it fits because all the pieces were the same.

I disagree that there is the same "all the songs sound similar" theme running through "TGG" as "GR" ... on TGG between tracks 1,2,4,5,7,10,11 you can find far more diverse material than you will find on any stretch of this album. Changes in pacing, melody, chorus distinction, audible guitar riff ... and there's distinct highs and lows in virtually every song.

"Golden Record" for the most part stays flat. We see comments from people not even knowing they're listening to the chorus. With a few exceptions, that is indicative of most of the album.

Fair enough, good point. I do think the songs would have fit together in a straight mash-up style just fine, but the changes are what make them cohesive and interesting as part of the closer. And TGG songs definitely have more nuanced highs and lows than the ones on GR. I do sometimes forget what song is playing, but that's as much because of the excellent flow as anything else.

"Sins" is one of the few songs completely without a hook for me. The bridge saves it, but it's still a weak point. Which other tracks do you think lack and obvious chorus?

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That's because it comes down to execution ... one band did it very well and showcase it over a collection of songs ... one band did it just alright. Lots of bands write similar sounding songs for an album, but the great ones don't end up getting you lost in the middle with everything bleeding together. Be that a failure in sequencing, production, or lack of diversity -- we can argue where all day -- but it is definitely a problem on this album that stands out far more than on other "top genre" albums.

Never said that it's an issue that doesn't exist in other albums as well ... but overcoming it (see: War Paint) was what the band was capable of doing before. I don't think they did here. I believe they need a different producer to bring something else out of them ... cause a good portion of this just sounds phoned in ...

And I would agree they did ... until this album. Here, they suffer from a monotony hereto unseen in their catalog.

Fair enough again. I do think they should change things up, both in the studio and in how they are promoting themselves. Even if I like this record a lot, it's definitely their weakest and they're sort of just stagnating at this point in terms of audience reach. I think the biggest problem here is sequencing, most of it in the front half. It feels like "Catholic Girls" and "Sins" were their two possibilities for an opener and that they just threw both at the top of the record, which doesn't quite work. It's like putting two opening tracks at the front of a mixtape. And "Drowning" and "Knives" should 1) not be after "Sins" and 2) not be side by side. I think the sequencing improves a lot after that, but it still doesn't have the flow or uniformity of their past two albums.

Quote:
Sure it could, it's not even a good closer ... and I'd also argue that a climax of an album shouldn't be in the last song (and that it's not here, given that I don't think there's much differentiation within the album itself) ... that musically, we want to hear a climax toward the middle of an album, and then resolve at the end. The best albums don't climax at the very end, they use the end of the album to wrap up all of the material. To bring you down from the ride. To naturally resolve.

To each their own, I think it's a great closer. Chorus is one of my favorites on the album, and the "we should live in the summer" line feels like it ties the album up well.

I think your climax comments are interesting, and I don't disagree, though I would argue that there's definitely more than one way to close an album well. Sure there are some albums that reach the peak of their crescendo halfway through (Transatlanticism really is a perfect example), and then slow back down to end the record on a more balladic note. But a lot of bands and artists absolutely do save the best or biggest song for the end of the record, and that's why so many epic or obviously climactic closers exist and are beloved, both in this scene ("23," "Dizzy," "Fin," "The Backseat," "Never Feel Alone," "Caves," etc.) and outside of it ("Jungleland," "A Day in the Life," "Won't Get Fooled Again," etc.). I think albums can end beautifully at both extremes, but "Jungleland" is my all time favorite finale because it offers both the epic climax and the comedown resolution.

Why does it seem like Jason and Craig have long multi-quote arguments in tons of threads? Does anyone else get that feeling?

To be fair, we aren't always arguing. Sometimes, we band together to tear apart shitty superhero movies.
09:24 AM on 07/09/13
#8
Craig Manning
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that was an admirably long post

that post might be longer than drews review

Clearly I'm awful at managing my time.
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