Saturday, October 31, 2015

Jimmy Eat World: Static Prevails [1996] — Album Review

Jim Adkins: Guitar, Vocals
Tom Linton: Guitar, Vocals
Rick Burch: Bass
Zach Lind: Drums
Produced by Mark Trombino and Wes Kidd

1. Thinking, That's All – 2:51
2. Rockstar – 3:48
3. Claire – 3:39
4. Call It in the Air – 3:00
5. Seventeen – 3:33
6. Episode IV – 4:30
7. Digits – 7:28
8. Caveman – 4:34
9. World is Static – 3:55
10. In the Same Room – 4:58
11. Robot Factory – 3:58
12. Anderson Mesa – 5:16
13. 77 Satellites – 3:04
14. What Would I Say to You Now – 2:34
Total Runtime: 57:02

After (somehow) getting signed to Capitol Records after releasing their self-titled début in 1994, Jimmy Eat World changed their style up a bit and released Static Prevails in '96. It didn't do very well. Not because it's a bad album in any way, but because the world—escpecially the U.S.—was quite lukewarm for post-hardcore/alternative music in 1996 (Then JEW changed it up again for their final Capitol release, Clarity, in 1999, getting more of an emo vibe).
Static Prevails starts off with "Thinking, That's All", featuring both Adkins and Linton on vocals, and is that... is that Jim Adkins screaming? Like, screaming? That's... odd. I never realized that Jim could scream. He's really good at it too. The guitars sound great, and there are some really cool riffs in there. Next is "Rockstar", with mostly Linton on vocal duties. It's an okay song. Nothing to write home about, but probably the best song called "Rockstar".
"Call it in the Air" is a goddamn masterpiece. The lyrics, vocals, guitars, drums; everything's just perfect. I wish they'd play it at their shows more often. They never really play much from Static Prevails, besides maybe "Claire" a few times. "Claire" isn't a bad song though.
"Seventeen" is okay. "Episode IV" is also okay. "Digits" is better than the previous two songs, with its funny almost stop and then Adkins shouting "Pay attention" to wake you up. But, "Caveman" is a pretty average song, not really hitting any spots with me.
"World is Static" starts off with a cool riff, and has some of Adkins' coolest vocal work. "In the Same Room" is a softer song, and is also pretty good. "Robot Factory" destroys the silence, and Linton performs some of his best vocal work, and it offers some very cool sounding guitar work/effects. "Anderson Mesa" closes out the album, and it does a good job with its slow rhythm. "77 Satellites" and "What Would I Say to You Now" are included as bonus tracks on the 2007 re-release, which is pretty much the only CD you're going to come by, and they're both decent tracks. 
Overall, Static Prevails is a pretty good album, especially for its style when this isn't what Jimmy Eat World went on to do.

Thinking, That's All: 8/10
Rockstar: 6/10
Claire: 7/10
Call it in the Air: 10/10
Seventeen: 7/10
Episode IV: 6/10
Digits: 7/10
Caveman: 5/10
World is Static: 8/10
In the Same Room: 7/10
Robot Factory: 8/10
Anderson Mesa: 6/10
77 Satellites: 7/10
What Would I Say to You Now: 6/10

Subtotal: 98/140
Bonus Points:
Total: 98/140
Score: 7.0 Great

Genres: Post-hardcore, Alternative Rock, Punk

Last Week's Review: Under Soil and Dirt by The Story So Far
Next Week's Review: Life is Not a Waiting Room by Senses Fail
Next Jimmy Eat World Review: 1998 EP

Friday, October 30, 2015

Saves the Day: I'm Sorry I'm Leaving [1999] — EP Review

Chris Conley: Guitar, Vocals
Vocal Era: Through Being Cool
Dave Soloway: Guitar
Eben D’Amico: Bass
Ted Alexander: Guitar
Bryan Newman: Drums

1. I'm Sorry I'm Leaving – 2:48
2. Hold – 2:23
3. Jessie & My Whetstone – 2:06
4. Take Our Cars Now! – 2:37
5. I Melt With You – 2:57
7" B-Side:
3. The Way His Collar Falls – 2:46
Total Runtime: 12:51/7:57

I'm Sorry I'm Leaving is the second release by Saves the Day, and their first EP. Released in early 1999, ISIL is an acoustic EP inspired by the song "Three Miles Down" from their debut Can't Slow Down, suggested by a fan and Equal Vision employee.
ISIL starts out with the song which gives its title, which is pretty damn good. "Hold" is a mainstay among most StD fans. That's 'cause it's a perfect song. Once you've heard it, you'll never get "Oh well, you've got me under your spell/And I don't think that I'm kiddin' around, don't think I can forget you now" out of your head. "Take Our Cars Now!" is a great tune. It really makes me want to go on a road trip. "I Melt with You" is StD covering a Modern English song that everyone else has covered. But they did it best. Bowling for Soup might give them a run for the money, but I think StD'd come out on top.
Released only on the B-side of the ISIL 7", which is hard to come by, "The Way His Collar Falls" is a song about Conley's good friend Lief. But the lyrics are a little… creepy. i.e. "Have you seen his ankles lately?/I know he's next to me./I feel his sweater here,/but when I'm sleeping it's only green sheets and the hair down my legs.". Yeah, it's kinda weird, but it's still a catchy, fun tune.

I'm Sorry I'm Leaving: 8/10
Hold: 10/10
Jessie & My Whetstone: 9/10
Take Our Cars Now!: 9/10
Melt With You: 8/10
The Way His Collar Falls: 7/10

Subtotal: 44/50 25/30
Bonus Points:
Total: 44/50 25/30
Score: 8.8 Excellent (8.3 Excellent)

Next EP Review: A Writer's Reference by Halifax
Next Saves the Day Review: Through Being Cool

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Story So Far: Under Soil and Dirt [2011] — Album Review

Parker Cannon: Vocals
William Levy: Guitar
Kevin Geyer: Guitar
Kelen Capener: Bass
Ryan Torf: Drums
Produced by Sam Pura

1. States and Minds – :51
2. Roam – 2:54
3. Quicksand – 2:38
4. Swords and Pens – 3:09
5. High Regard – 3:51
6. Daughters – 3:06
7. Mt. Diablo – 4:09
8. Four Years – 2:44
9. Rally Cap – 2:18
10. Placeholder – 3:05
12. Closure – 3:19
Total Runtime: 32:12

Under Soil and Dirt is The Story So Far's first album. And it's such a great album. Under Soil and Dirt was the album that got me hooked on TSSF. I had heard "Clairvoyant" and While You Were Sleeping before I'd listened to Under Soil and Dirt, but Under Soil and Dirt was the one that really got me to start listening to them.
Under Soil and Dirt opens with the short intro "States and Minds", which bleeds into "Roam", an amazing song. Cannon has a very unique singing style; he sounds like he's yelling, but he's not screaming, à la Senses Fail or something. It's strange, but it sounds really cool, honestly.
"Quicksand" is a freaking awesome tune; "Swords and Pens", "High Regard", and "Daughters" are all your standard 2010s pop-punk, but not as watered down, definitely above average. "Mt. Diablo" is another standout track, with the shift in time in there.
"Four Years" is like the aforementioned standard fodder, but it's followed by "Rally Cap", an upbeat, vivacious tune. "Placeholder" is a very nice sounding track, starting with acoustics instead of electric guitars. "Closure" isn't the best closer, but it's a good song nonetheless.
Overall, Under Soil and Dirt is a great album. TSSF have really done it here, this is one of the best débuts ever recorded.

States and Minds: 8/10
Roam: 10/10
Quicksand: 7/10
Swords and Pens: 7/10
High Regard: 6/10
Daughters: 7/10
Mt. Diablo: 10/10
Four Years: 6/10
Rally Cap: 9/10
Placeholder: 10/10
Closure: 7/10

Subtotal: 88/110
Bonus Points:
Killer Choruses: +2
Total: 90/110
Score: 8.2 Excellent

Genres: Pop-Punk, Alternative Rock

Last Week's Review: Can't Slow Down by Saves the Day
Next Week's Review: Static Prevails by Jimmy Eat World
Next Story So Far Review: What You Don't See

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Saves the Day: Can't Slow Down [1998] — Album Review

Chris Conley: Vocals
Vocal Era: Can't Slow Down
Anthony Anastacio: Guitar
Sean McGrath: Bass
Justin Gaylord: Guitar
Bryan Newman: Drums
Produced by Steve Evetts

1. Deciding – 1:55
2. The Choke – 2:36
3. Handsome Boy – 1:00
4. Blindfolded – 3:13
5. Collision – 1:26
6. Three Miles Down – 1:37
7. Always Ten Feet Tall – 3:24
8. Nebraska Bricks – 2:04
9. Seeing it This Way – 1:32
10. Hot Time in Delaware – 1:46
11. Houses and Billboards – 3:13
12. Obsolete – 1:58
13. Sometimes, New Jersey – 1:09
14. Jodie – 4:36
Total Runtime: 31:28

Released on August 11th, 1998, Can’t Slow Down is Saves the Day’s debut album. CSD is the only Saves the Day recording with guitarists Anthony Anastacio and Justin Gaylord, and bassist Sean McGrath. Recorded in Winter ’97 with producer Steve Evetts for Equal Vision Records, CSD is quite the specimen. The album doesn’t have any clear choruses, with the exception of album-closer Jodie. The album’s guitar work is not really going to impress any fans of the Dave Soloway albums (I’m Sorry I’m Leaving through Under the Boards), nor even the Arun Bali albums (Daybreak and Saves the Day), not that it’s bad in any way. The lyrics are as good as always with Conley, and really shine throughout the album.
"Deciding" is a great album opener, and it really sets the tone for the rest of the album. Bursting through the starting gates with fast, driving guitars, Deciding opens the album with full-force. Conley’s voice comes in with the stellar opening lines “And it’s not fair—why do I have to be so?/Oh I feel ev’rything much more—much more than you ever will”, where he really shows the power behind his voice.
"The Choke" follows, with equally powerful guitar work, then "Handsome Boy" slips in and is gone as quickly as it came.
"Three Miles Down" is easily the best song on CSD, with its acoustic warmth and Conley's heartfelt lyricism. "Three Miles Down" is definitely going to be on anyone's "Best of Saves the Day" playlist.
Probably the weakest song on the album is "Hot Time in Delaware", with its strange opening clip and its boring guitars.
And we end on "Jodie", another strong effort. Again, Conley's lyricism shines through brightly.
Overall, Can't Slow Down certainly isn't StD's strongest album, it's a pretty average album. Saves the Day are a great band, and this is definitely not the best example of their work.

Deciding: 8/10
The Choke: 7/10
Handsome Boy: 5/10
Blindfolded: 6/10
Collision: 6/10
Three Miles Down: 10/10
Always Ten Feet Tall: 5/10
Nebraska Bricks: 6/10
Seeing it This Way: 6/10
Hot Time in Delaware: 4/10
Houses and Billboards: 6/10
Obsolete: 6/10
Sometimes, New Jersey: 5/10
Jodie: 9/10

Subtotal: 89/140
Bonus Points:
Total: 89/140
Score: 6.4 Good

Genres: Emo, Pop-Punk, Alternative, Melodic Hardcore

Next Week's Review: Under Soil and Dirt by The Story So Far
Next Saves the Day Review: I'm Sorry I'm Leaving