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Dropout Year - The Way We Play Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7.5
Musicianship 7.5
Lyrics 6.5
Production 7.5
Creativity 6
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Final Verdict: 71%
Member Ratings
Vocals 4.88
Musicianship 4.56
Lyrics 5.06
Production 4.81
Creativity 4.63
Lasting Value 4.94
Reviewer Tilt 5.13
Average: 49%
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Dropout Year - The Way We Play

Reviewed by: MusicTalks (04/10/09)
Dropout Year - The Way We Play
Record Label: None
Release Date: April 7, 2009

Let’s be honest and say that Maryland is known for their crab cakes and football. Or, at least I heard that somewhere before. Regardless though, in recent years, Maryland has spurned a Mogwai-like affinity for pop-punk music (All Time Low, The Dangerous Summer). Hailing from Owings Mills, which is known for housing the Baltimore Ravens headquarters and a substandard shopping mall, Dropout Year could throw a baseball to their neighbors, All Time Low, who are from Towson. And, oddly enough, proximity on a geographic scale can translate to proximity on a musical scale as well.

In this genre, people sometimes mistake good music for ingenuity and originality. And, as the average age of this fan base gets younger and younger while steadily leveling out, people will often forsake new material and opt for things that sound familiar. When All Time Low burst into picture a few years ago, there was nothing groundbreaking or deftly original about their music. Alex Gaskarth has a distinguishable, yet powerful, voice and I think that, after listening to Dropout Year, we’ll continue to see that same platform of music being made. However, let me put this out there now and say that Dropout Year are a quality band with some incredible potential. I don’t use that word to be patronizing or back-handed, but rather to be positive about their music. They play their instruments cleanly and accessibly. Lead vocals, by Steve Reter, are akin to Gaskarth’s throughout, with hints of Nick Thompson (Hit the Lights) and Jason Lancaster (GoRadio, ex-Mayday Parade). But, it goes without saying that after listening to their new EP, The Way We Play, I can’t help but feel like I just spent a half hour listening to All Time Low, circa 2007.

The EP starts with “This Notebook”, an instantly catchy and infectious track. The guitar riff and drums are instantaneously pleasing and when the vocals get brave and we hear “So now I tip-toe in a new direction”, one can be giddy with excitement for the rest of the record and a newer, more original sound. What one gets is some amazingly catchy, pop-punk music without a new direction. It’s full of whoa-oh-like gang vocals and feel good tunes, but it’s nothing fresh and innovative. With production from Rob Freeman (Hit the Lights, Cobra Starship), this album takes on a mash-up attitude by sounding like Hit the Lights, All Time Low, and Mayday Parade, all at the same time. “Mile Marker” is second and I almost expected to hear the beginning of Hit the Lights' “Save Your Breath” based on the instruments and intro. As you get deeper into the song, you hear “cause the mile marker is bringing me home,” which will bring All Time Low’s, So Wrong, It’s Right, to immediate mind. “Counting Down” is a track that starts out on a “Girls Do What They Want” by The Maine path and rolls along with a “Tell Me Where You Are” by Hit the Lights vibe. As the listener probes for something different, they are left with things that just sound familiar. And as such, familiarity becomes a common theme with this record. There are, however, a few more original tracks such as “Pretty You” and even some of “As You Wish” that help salvage hope for music that travels the unbeaten path.

In the end, my critique of them wouldn’t be that they don’t play good music. In fact, they play some of the more refreshing and accessible pop-punk out there. It’s clean and crisp and the production makes for a great listen. My critique would be that it’s nothing that a listener hasn’t heard before. As a fan, we want to put Dropout Year on and hear them play. Instead, we turn on the new EP and hear Dropout Year sound like the bands we were hoping they’d branch away from.

Take A Listen If You LikeAll Time Low; Hit the Lights; Mayday Parade; infectious pop-punk; crabcakes; the Ravens; skeeball, bands from MD

myspace.com/dropoutyear
purevolume.com/dropoutyear
 
Displaying posts 1 - 14 of 14
01:03 AM on 04/12/09
#2
more heart
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I wasn't a huge fan on this review. It seems like it took you way too long to actually review this record and when you did, it took up a single paragraph. Since when has Maryland been known for football?
01:53 AM on 04/12/09
#3
billyboatkid
The Protagonist of Loneliness
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Cool beans.
11:43 AM on 04/12/09
#4
Blake Solomon
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I wasn't a huge fan on this review. It seems like it took you way too long to actually review this record and when you did, it took up a single paragraph. Since when has Maryland been known for football?

To anwer your question: yikes lol
03:55 PM on 04/12/09
#5
zubinmoosa
Tonight I'm Burning Star IV
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Great EP. Love these guys.
07:37 PM on 04/12/09
#6
scorpio7
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I wasn't a huge fan on this review. It seems like it took you way too long to actually review this record and when you did, it took up a single paragraph. Since when has Maryland been known for football?
Watch Wedding Crashers.
07:57 PM on 04/12/09
#7
fueledbyvictory
the title I want is too long </3
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Cute.
09:19 AM on 04/13/09
#8
tony_u
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terrible band, for so many reasons they have gone and will go nowhere. the pop punk ship has sailed.
10:20 AM on 04/13/09
#9
MusicTalks
@JasDunham
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I wasn't a huge fan on this review. It seems like it took you way too long to actually review this record and when you did, it took up a single paragraph. Since when has Maryland been known for football?
The second and third paragraphs are about the record. The summation of the album, and thus the review, would be that it sounded too much like other music, so my 2nd paragraph was prefacing that. The 3rd paragraph is all about the album.
05:12 PM on 04/14/09
UnderMyDreams
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Good review... I like the album. It's a great band. However, I will have to say that I don't think Steve sounds much like Alex at all...
05:37 PM on 04/14/09
scmaley
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I really like this album. It's fun, and I'm sure I'll be playing it all summer.
12:06 PM on 04/15/09
RamInGoreville
Occupy Your Mind
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These dudes are workers, I can tell you that. Although I'm not interested in the genre anymore, I have followed these guys for a number of years since they're from around my music scene and play a lot of shows near me, some in which were free (sweet)

But yeah it's cool watching bands like them grow. Good luck to them.
11:44 AM on 05/17/09
denissuxx
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Slow review, good album
05:30 PM on 12/04/09
ajc1ne
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Great EP, one of the better pop punk releases this year - these guys are very underrated IMO
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