Friday, March 18, 2016

Saves the Day: Bug Sessions, Volume One [2006] — EP Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Guitar
Vocal Era: Sound the Alarm
Dave Soloway: Guitar
Manuel Carrero: Bass
Pete Parada: Drums

1. Certain Tragedy – 2:42
2. In My Waking Life – 2:45
3. Freakish – 4:06
4. You Vandal – 2:21
5. Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven – 3:23
6. My Sweet Fracture – 4:04
7. Jodie – 4:06
Total Runtime: 23:22

Okay, so this is an acoustic compilation released on tour after Sound the Alarm. I'm not going to go into detail about the lyrics and instrumentalism since I've already gone over it in my previous reviews.
Bug Sessions, Volume 1 is the first in a trilogy (strange, a trilogy during another trilogy) of acoustic EPs released on tour from 2006 to 2008. This is the only one which includes the full band and which was recorded in studio (that being the Electric Ladybug, at Conley's house). It's also probably the… worst. I don't know, the Sound the Alarm voice just doesn't go with many of the songs on this record.
I never thought I'd say that the Sound the Alarm voice would sound alright with a Stay What You Are song, but "Certain Tragedy" was probably the best choice. The guitars sound great acoustic. But it doesn't work with latter-half In Reverie songs like "In My Waking Life". Surprising to say, it works okay on "Freakish". This just sounds awesome with acoustic instruments.
Through Being Cool fans are gonna kill me for the rating I'm giving "You Vandal". But the panicky voice works well here. "Sell My Old Clothes" is probably the best sounding non-Sound the Alarm song to sing with the StA voice, and Soloway kicks ass on that acoustic. And the weirdo-"Can't Slow Down is Saves the Day's only good album" people already hate me but this is me signing my own death warrant. "Jodie" actually sounds pretty good.
It's decent, but unless you're a hardcore Saves the Day fan like I am, don't go trying to track a physical copy down; they're pretty damn hard to come by (I got lucky and found them on eBay all together.).

Certain Tragedy: 6/10
In My Waking Life: 4/10
Freakish: 6/10
You Vandal: 6/10
Sell My Old Clothes, I'm Off to Heaven: 7/10
My Sweet Fracture: 5/10
Jodie: 6/10

Subtotal: 40/70
Bonus Points:
Total: 40/70
Score: 5.7 Painfully Average

Genres: Acoustic, Emo, Pop-Punk

Last EP Review: Summer's Kiss EP by Dashboard Confessional
Next EP Review: The Weight That You Buried by Knuckle Puck
Next Saves the Day Review: Under the Boards

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Saves the Day: Sound the Alarm [2006] — Album Review

Chris Conley: Vocals, Guitar
         Vocal Era: Sound the Alarm
Dave Soloway: Guitar
Manuel Carrero: Bass
Pete Parada: Drums
Produced by Steve Evetts and Jesse Cannon

1. Head for the Hills – 2:51
2. The End – 1:55
3. Shattered – 3:09
4. Eulogy – 3:23
5. Dying Day – 2:22
6. 34 – 2:23
7. Say You'll Never Leave – 2:20
8. Diseased – 2:12
9. Don't Know Why – 3:23
10. Sound the Alarm  – 3:06
11. Bones – 2:23
12. Delusional – 2:08
13. Hell is Here – 3:36
Total Runtime: 35:09

So now we've made it to Sound the Alarm. At first I really hated this album. I had just bought Under the Boards on vinyl a few weeks previous, and while I was sitting listening to Sound the Alarm on the kick-ass looking orange vinyl it came on, I actually kinda had to force myself through it. It was the first Saves the Day record I didn't like. For the longest time I wrote it off as their worst album; that it was just worthless. Then I got Daybreak on vinyl and loved that and then I got In Reverie on CD which as we've gone over is a great album; but both of which StD fans say are their worst. No one says that Sound the Alarm is bad. No one really even talks about it. After a while I decided I wouldn't be close-minded like most StD fans (especially the ones who say Can't Slow Down is their only good album) and I'd give it another chance. Man did I listen to it a lot after that. Sound the Alarm is a great album. Not as good as their previous efforts (except Can't Slow Down), but still.
After In Reverie, longtime drummer and the only original member of the band (besides Conley) Bryan Newman left the band. Soon after, longtime bassist Eben D'Amico left as well. Newman was replaced by Pete Parada, and D'Amico was replaced by Glassjaw bassist Manuel Carrero.
Sound the Alarm spawns from the insanity Conley was feeling after In Reverie flopped hard thanks to Saves the Day fans who can't accept any change in style (that being most of them in 2003) and scathing reviews from critics who don't know Thursday from Jimmy Eat World. The commercial failure of In Reverie sent Conley into a bad depression and he began writing all about how he felt (or how I'd put it: how it sucks when your fans are assholes.), the first song he wrote being "Woe", which appears on Under the Boards. After "Woe", Conley had a huge writing explosion—he began writing many, many songs. Because of the huge number of songs, Conley decided to take on a three-album project, giving us Sound the Alarm in 2006, the first in the trilogy, which is focused on the insanity and anger he was feeling after In Reverie. At first I thought that the record sounded like Conley had taken "Rocks Tonic Juice Magic" and stretched out the dark lyrics from that to fill a whole album, but after listening to StA with an open mind for more than a year and a half now, I see I was just being too close-minded like old StD fans were when In Reverie hit shelves. Let's get to the songs already, shall we?
"Burning the door in the back of my mind/Lying alone in the morning I feel like swallowing my eyes" Conley screams as the guitar of "Head for the Hills" powers in. He sounds panicked, as he does throughout the album, which really helps set the tone. The dark lyrics are here to stay as soon as they arrive here in the opener. The band just sounds like they're all trying to set the mood that this album isn't for the faint of heart, and does it well. But then we hit a speed bump. "The End" is not a very good song. Conley sounds like he's whining on lines like "The faded red dress from the senior prom" (P.S. the red dress thing comes up on all three albums of the trilogy.). And the lyrics just sound whiny altogether. At least it's over quickly. And a step back in the right direction—"Shattered" brings some very dark imagery: "Woke up this morning, with a trail of teeth under the door/I took a wrench to my chest, cracked all my ribs/Let the blood run all over my hands". The opening bass riff sounds awesome and reminds me a bit of A Drag in D Flat. Great song.
"Eulogy" brings in some reverbed guitar with ringing chords and lead riffs. Conley's lyrical prowess really shows itself here, with the chorus declaring "I'll carve out my lungs and it's all just to see you again". Best song on the record; everything just falls right into place here.
"Dying Day" shows abandoning fans that this band still knows how to have some fun. With a more upbeat vibe from the instruments and the still-dark lyrics (which don't clash, I might add), this song shows that StD's still got it.
*sigh* the whininess makes its return here on "34", but it's not as bad as on "The End". The chorus states "I hope you're on the way/To an early grave", and Conley's convincing in his delivery, but that doesn't change the fact that the lyrics just sound a little whiny. "Say You'll Never Leave" is also whiny, but that's the point. That's my argument. "Say you'll never leave, please/This war inside my mind, it's killin' me", he's scared and in need of help.
"Don't Know Why" is unsettling. In a good way. The lone guitar playing single notes droning on makes the lyrics all the more depressing. It just mixes really well. "I don't know where to go/Ain't no light along the road/Stumbling under the stars above" Conley says after the swells dissipate and the guitar chimes in on "Sound the Alarm". This song is lonely and bleak, and really makes you feel it.
"Bones": the guitar. THE GUITAR. Mmmm that guitar. Amazing.
Next, "Delusional". Paranoia peaks here: "All night I dream that they're really out to get me". The lyrics really convey the tone of the song and the guitar is just sweet. On "Hell is Here" the guitar is creepy and the lyrics are as well. But this lyric always rubs me the wrong way: "Everyone you know will someday die/We all have to say goodbye"; it just… I mean… like, Conley never writes anything this dark. It's just too dark. Even for this album. I don't know; that's all I've got. Before we tackle Under the Boards, we've got the first Bug Sessions CD to take a look at. Until then, take a listen to Sound the Alarm. It's worth at least that much.

Head for the Hills: 7/10
The End: 2/10
Shattered: 8/10
Eulogy: 9/10
Dying Day: 7/10
34: 5/10
Say You'll Never Leave: 7/10
Diseased: 8/10
Don't Know Why: 7/10
Sound the Alarm: 7/10
Bones: 9/10
Delusional: 8/10
Hell is Here: 6/10

Subtotal: 83/130
Bonus Points:
A+ Guitar Work: +2
Total: 85/130
Score: 6.5 Very Good

Last Review: In Reverie by Saves the Day
Next Review: Under the Boards by Saves the Day
Next Saves the Day Review: Bug Sessions, Vol. 1

Monday, March 7, 2016

Thursday: Signals Over the Air [2003] — Single Review

Geoff Rickly: Lead Vocals
Tom Keeley: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Steve Pedulla: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Tim Payne: Bass
Tucker Rule: Drums
Andrew Everding: Keyboards

1. Signals Over the Air – 4:12
2. Division St. [Acoustic] – 4:37
3. A Hole in the World [Acoustic] – 5:34
Total Runtime: 14:23

Signals Over the Air is the first single from 2003's War All the Time. And this single CD (from the UK, by the way) is definitely a good one.
I've gone over "Signals Over the Air" in my War All the Time review, so I'll spare you extra text, because it's the same version. The acoustic version of "Division St." included here sounds very nice, I'd even go as far as to say it sounds better than the album version.
And the acoustic version of "A Hole in the World" from Full Collapse is also quite pleasing to the ears. I wouldn't go as far as to say it's better than the album version this time.
The video for "Signals Over the Air" is really cool as well.
It's really good. Pick it up if you come across it.

Signals Over the Air: 10/10
Division St.: 9/10
A Hole in the World: 7/10

Total: 26/30
Score: 8.7 Excellent

Last Single Review: Anywhere With You by Saves the Day
Next Single Review: Under a Killing Moon/For the Workforce, Drowning 7" by Thrice and Thursday
Next Thursday Review: Under a Killing Moon/For the Workforce, Drowning 7"