26 December 2006

NMT: 26 DEC 06 Switchfoot - Oh! Gravity.

Another Tuesday, more new music. This week I could have chosen from the Switchfoot album I'm about to dissect or Omarion's new effort. It came down to the capsule description of the band on URGE, "Spiritual SoCal surfers add some aggression on sixth album".

First, I couldn't not review an album by "spiritual SoCal surfers", second, sixth album?!? Never really heard of them before, I guess they've flown below my radar, I'm not a big fan of the current crop of pop/rock outfits, but why not give this effort a listen?

Also, I'm going to break down each and every song, cause nowadays, it's only old fogeys like myself who insist on listening to entire albums, so I'll evaluate each track on its individual merits, as well as the overall feel of the entire album, and that will be my method from now on.

On to the album.

1) Oh! Gravity.
Poppy-peppy-punky! Ugggh.

2) American Dream
I don't mind derivative music, but when the music is derivative of songs that came out one or two years ago, then it's not homage, it's just theft. It's a less good, less political American Idiot.

3) Dirty Second Hands
Just when I was ready to dismiss this band, a song like this shows up. Great song. Twangy guitar begins, with some nice syncopation on the vocals. Neo-pscyhedelica done well. Somewhere in Stone Temple Pilots territory. Big music played well, just how I like it.

4) Awakening
Not bad, but, meh. Nothing terrible about this song, but utterly undistinguished, and indistinguishable from countless other similar songs by similar bands, but some kid in high school will click with the lyrics to this song, and it will change their life. Funny how music works like that some time.

5) Circles
Again, another interesting song. These guys do slightly textured, slightly psychedelic, pretty well. They should lay off the more pop-punk stuff.

6) Amateur Lovers
Another song with slightly improved material from which it's ripped off. A decent attempt at big beat. If this had been on a Romantics or Knack album, nobody would have been surprised.

7) Faust, Midas, and Myself
I guess someone in this band went to college. Still kind of anonymous. There's something going on here, but none of it feels completely authentic or worth paying attention to. Close, but no cigar.

8) Head Over Heels (In This Life)
This song is kind of pretty. It's also kind of blah. It's typical of the whole album, a lot of almost but not quite. Nothing is specifically wrong with this song, but there's also nothing remarkably right about it, either (yet I can still picture some high school kid thinking this is exactly what they've been thinking and feeling and can't believe how these guys know how to express such deep and soulful things with a pop beat).

9) Yesterdays
I really want to like this song. It starts well, but it's a donut. Something is missing in the center of it. It just makes me think of other bands that do this kind of thing so much better. It's a wistful ballad with no punch, no soul, and no emotion.

10) Burn Out Bright
Big change from the last song. Up tempo punky-pop a la My Chemical Romance or Yellowcard, not bad, but not my cup of tea. If it came on the radio, I wouldn't try to change the channel, but I probably wouldn't notice when the song ends either, another anonymous unit pusher.

11) 4:12
Ohhh, clever, the song is named the same as its playing time. I can't put my finger on what doesn't work on this song, maybe it's the singer, the band is top notch, the arrangement is actually kind of interesting, but this singer just doesn't do it for me in this kind of setting.
UPDATE: Upon reflection, I realized that the title might have a deeper meaning beyond the total time for the song.

12) Let Your Love Be Strong
You can't ever go wrong beginning a song with acoustic guitar, right? Depends where you're headed. Another song that just sort of sits there. Sounds like it's supposed to be a Coldplay style sensitive ballad, but just doesn't work on that level. Another strong and emphatic MEH! (that is if a "meh" can be either strong or emphatic)

Maybe I'm Danny Glover (I'm just too old for this "stuff"). I still wouldn't be surprised if my hypothetical high school kid just gloms on to this album and falls in love with every song, but I'm not there any more, and this isn't the kind of album that should or would excite someone who either wasn't already deeply committed to liking this band, or really susceptible to this kind of album. I'm none of those things, so this album wasn't for me, but I don't feel like I completely wasted my time listening to it, I just won't be listening to any of it again (except maybe "Dirty Second Hands" that's a solid track).

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