Late Night Sing-Alongs
Review by Troy Sennett
The Summers’ biography spends a lot of time touting their age, and rightly so. Even though the Summers brothers, who make up three quarters of the band, are still teenagers, they’ve already been playing together for five years. The experience shows on It’s No Life Story, a whirlwind record full of tight playing, catchy melodies, and a healthy dose of Drive-Thru era influence.
It’s No Life Story opens with “This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things,” a song that, for better or worse, sounds like it was written to be a first single. Everything about the song, from the guitar line in the intro to the quiet bridge, sounds just a little too smooth and shiny. It becomes even more apparent on upon hearing a gem like “My Other Identity,” a fast tune reminiscent of early Swellers material that allows some of the band’s natural roughness to show through. The grittier vocals and faster tempos suit the Summers especially well, and the Allister-esque “I Love the Smell of Napalm In the Morning” is an even better example of how good this band can sound without the slickest production.
“It’s a Long Way From Here To the Rope” has a solid chorus, but the guitar riffs sound like they were lifted right off of a Four Year Strong outtake, and that makes it a great place to point out my biggest problem with It’s No Life Story. Straightforward, melodic pop-punk comes so naturally to the Summers that their forays into breakdowns and easycore on “Long Way,” “BENNY,” and “Loose Lips Sink Ships” sound forced and unnatural. I’d hesitate to call it trend-hopping, but a band this capable of writing great melodies certainly shouldn’t need to bring the mosh to get people to pay attention.
Despite my issues with the breakdowns, it’s refreshing to see a band attempt so many different styles on one release (and I didn’t even mention the self-explanatory balled, “The Piano Song,” or “AK-47,” which sounds like a perfect hybrid of Such Gold and Fireworks). It’s also challenging, from a band’s perspective, to form that experimentation into some sort of cohesive whole. To their credit, the Summers almost pull it off on It’s No Life Story. Some pieces work much better than others, but what holds it together is the solid songwriting – a talent that, if they can capitalize on it, will mean great things in the future.
Giants At Large’s new album, Doubt, can be streamed and purchased from the band’s Bandcamp page here.
Handguns have announced a fall headlining tour featuring support from Forever Came Calling, State Champs, and Allison Weiss. Dates and venues are expected to be announced soon.
Yellowcard’s brand new album, Southern Air, is streaming in its entirety here.
Review by Troy Sennett
Much of my anticipation for the American Scene’s Safe For Now stems from “Why I’m Not Where You Are,” the band’s stellar, heartbreaking contribution to their split with fellow Pure Noise Records rockers Daybreaker. On that song, the California natives simultaneously channeled the modern rock of the Dangerous Summer and the shimmering, sparkling qualities of Midwest emo. The result is a powerful, expertly crafted track that would, had another band written it, be the anchor of their next full-length record. However, Safe For Now is an entirely different animal than the American Scene’s previous releases, and forcing in a piece of the back catalog would be akin to Transit tossing “Please Head North” right into the middle of Listen and Forgive. Such a misstep would take away from the readily apparent maturity and focus of Safe For Now – the very qualities that make it such a solid record.
What does remain of the American Scene’s past work is the influence they draw from Midwest emo. While they don’t come close to the mathy complexity of American Football, the interwoven guitar melodies of “Just Say It” and the patient, lush atmosphere “Fifth and Natoma” still pay sufficient homage to Mike Kinsella. An even more dominant source of inspiration on Safe For Now seems to be modern British rock, particularly Bloc Party. Strains of the English group’s work pop up the guitar trills at the end of “Shape Shifter,” frontman Matt Vincent’s driving, often subtly melodic bass lines, and most clearly on “Hungry Hands,” an album highlight that sounds like a slightly amped up version of Bloc Party’s “I Still Remember.”
Vincent’s vocals are another high point of Safe For Now, striking a nice middle ground between Seahaven’s Kyle Soto and the Dangerous Summer’s AJ Perdomo, particularly on the untitled acoustic track. His lyrics may not be outstanding, but their simple and fairly relatable stories function quite well in the context of the music. The biggest problem is that there are very few hooks to latch onto, and the result is a record that is great while it’s playing, but that I don’t find myself thinking about a whole lot when I’m not listening to it.
The American Scene’s greatest strength is that they no longer sound like a “Pure Noise band” – or at least, they don’t sound like Handguns, The Story So Far, and I Call Fives, the bands for which Pure Noise is most well-known. This kind of growth is best thing that can happen to a band in an oversaturated market, and the American Scene seem to have achieved it without too much in the way of growing pains. If they keep this up, great things can certainly be expected from them in the future.
On My Honor have announced a fall US tour with Above The Underground from the UK. The tour will feature Second To Last, Latin For Truth, Panic Manor, and Audiostrobelight on select dates. Additional information about the tour, including the dates, can be found here. The tour flyer can be viewed below by clicking “Read More”.
Tony Sly, vocalist/guitarist of No Use For A Name, has passed away at the age of 41. A statement from Fat Wreck Chords, the band’s long-time label, has issued a statement which can be read here. Our thoughts are with Sly’s family.
Misser have announced several northeast shows this September. Diamond Youth and Young Statues will be joining as support. Check out the tour flyer below for the dates.