Recover – Ceci N'Est Pas Recover
Release Date: 2002
Record Label: Fiddler Records
Five years ago a band called Recover from Austin, Texas (pronounced ‘Awesome,’ Texas) released an EP none of their fans could pronounce the name of – Ceci N’Est Pas Recover. The title is of little importance, since all that matters is the music. And it rocks - hard.
Recover walk a genre divide well by minimizing a full on hardcore sound with the subdued vocals of Dan Keyes. To put it another way, Keyes actually sings on the EP, so even cynics of the ‘screamo’ tag can find enjoyment in Ceci N’Est Pas Recover.
Two opening themes explored in the song “Push Push” are fear and hopelessness. Rhythmic hand claps at its start can’t deter from somber lyrics involving the tragedy of dependency. And as they sway with their sound Recover struggle between becoming lost in their pain ("Push Push") and fighting against it ("Sleeper").
Second vocalist Robert Mann joins Keyes in “My Only Cure,” and from that point on the two tackle gang vocal duties reminiscent of Taking Back Sunday circa Tell All Your Friends. Hopelessness is replaced by raw aggression as Mann grates his vocal chords during verses with lines such as, ‘All the blood in my body / Is pouring out slowly / You’re the reason why / I am unholy.’ Keyes remains fluid while singing the choruses and offsets Mann’s rougher style beautifully.
Recover complete the brief EP by using Keyes and Mann to the full potential for the closing track “Inhale Water.” A soft piano intro is hastily replaced by mean guitar riffs and dual vocals culminating in a chorus featuring the best lyrics of the release: ‘And I still can’t decide / If I’m dead or just not alive / I want to keep breathing / Just not in my own skin.’
The piano attempts to build itself back up for an interlude, but Recover quickly tear it down with a final chorus and a graphic message. As if giving up on the calm hopelessness introduced earlier, both singers shout one last brutal image to close the EP: ‘I’ll stab myself to death / I’ll tie you up and make you watch it.’
With its schizophrenic messages and bitter onslaught of emotion, Ceci N’Est Pas Recover is recommended to anyone who finds themselves in a place they can’t escape and is pissed off about it.
I've been dropped from my Summer II classes for not paying my emergency loan by the deadline. Now I have a lot more time to do nothing. Hopefully now I can get some work done for the site and maybe get some books read. I regret nothing.
Drew looks like a caveman. The Matches know how to put on a show, but the idiots throwing things onstage were pissing me off. I wanted to watch Family Force 5 again, but they were nowhere to be found. Neither were Paramore. Indoor Warped Tours are just not as fun. Paper Walls was on sale a day before its release date, so I bought it.
Well, it's regrettably over. I wish I could keep this high going for another month, but now it's back to school. Bummer.
Dallas has been good to me. Got some good pictures of Bad Religion, The Matches, Mayday Parade, and Scenes from a Movie. Meet and greets are the best. If I could stay on for the whole tour, I would. I have to start driving to Houston soon - should be a tiring drive.
I'm excited. It's been too long since I've been on a road trip, and I don't think I've ever had a solo road trip of this caliber. It's going to be nice meeting some of the staff members from the site. I hope that people say hi to me at the ap.net tent.
Days Away – L.S.D.E.P.
Release Date: 2003
Record Label: Fueled by Ramen
Days Away’s self-released disc the L.S.D.E.P. is an out of print rarity today, but collection fanatics need not worry – every track of the EP is recreated on the band’s debut album Mapping an Invisible World. Still, it’s nice to take a look back at the promise held by the best songs of the EP.
The soothing sounds of “Stay the Same” are a wonderful start to the L.S.D.E.P. Even with the instrumentation at its heaviest, Keith Goodwin (guitar/vocals) keeps a lazy pace with his placid singing. “Stay the Same” also introduces the band’s simplistic yet poignant approach to lyrics, a fitting compliment to Goodwin’s vocal style.
Days Away waste no time in showing their best hand with “God and Mars,” a fast paced and instantly addicting track. Goodwin’s sense of urgency is palpable as he vocalizes his poor state to the masses through the clever lyric, ‘I’m in a better place when you take this and turn it around.’ Tim Arnold (drums) does a fine job of keeping a quick rhythm throughout the song, which only lasts 2:08, but guarantees a second listen.
“Fight” slows things down again and delivers the most emotion of the L.S.D.E.P. Downtrodden lyrics (‘I'd trade the truth for some lies sometimes / I feel better not knowing what's going on’) and mournful notes courtesy of Matt Austin (guitar) set a fitting melancholy mood. A fantastic outro combining rhythmic backing vocals (‘ba-ba-ba-ba’) and Goodwin’s high pitched crooning make for a perfect ending. “Fight” is such a despairing song that one almost feels guilty gathering pleasure from it.
If this were a three song EP it would score ridiculously high. As it happens, the rest of the L.S.D.E.P. doesn’t compare to the initial draw. Chris Frangicetto (bass) is at his best on the next two tracks once his bass lines are easily recognizable, but “Ideas” and “It Happens” fall short of the standards set by the first three songs. Though “Ideas” and “It Happens” are of the same design, their vocals/lyrics lack the same flair, and more importantly, they are just not as enjoyable.
Picking an instrumental as part of a limited track listing is not the best choice, unless said track truly warrants an appearance. Days Away shows some talent on “T. Klines Decline,” but repetition doesn’t help the song elevate itself to more than a smooth jam session. Although it fits the mood of previous songs, the slow pace and nonexistent vocals of “T. Klines Decline” may have listeners giving up on the song before it’s halfway complete, and the L.S.D.E.P. deserves a better end than that.
I met up with Smiley and his cousin at Buffalo's where I proceeded to gorge myself on a 'Black & Bleu' burger followed by some Hot BBQ wings. We watched the latest UFC offering, which was entertaining. Then we came to the conclusion that I should move into Jacob and Smiley's apartment once my lease expires, which is going to save me thousands of dollars in the long run. Oh, and I beat "The Light That Blinds" on Guitar Hero II. Tonight was a good night.
Yellowcard – The Underdog EP
Release Date: July 9, 2002
Record Label: Fueled by Ramen
Before basking in the mainstream success that was Ocean Avenue, Yellowcard were just another bunch of underdogs plowing through releases and member changes. The Underdog EP, which features members Ryan Key (vocals/guitar), Warren Cooke (bass), Sean Mackin (violin), Ben Harper (guitar), and Longineu W. Parsons III (drums), will regrettably remain unexplored by more casual fans the band has picked up in recent years. But those who do take the time to dig through Yellowcard’s back catalog of music will be pleasantly surprised by The Underdog EP.
The EP begins in typical pop punk fare with “Underdog,” the age-old story of feeling left out amongst peers set to a high school backdrop. The song would be dispensable if not for the way Mackin’s violin compliments the guitars so well and the first evidence of Key’s vocal abilities. Over saturation of melodramatic lyrics amongst bands today doesn’t help the verses of second track “Avondale” age well (‘If you’re gonna rip my heart out / Could you use a knife that’s dull and rust in color?’), but again Key’s instantly accessible singing saves the song from obscurity.
Of all the songs on The Underdog EP, “Finish Line” shines brightest. Key doesn’t waste any time welcoming the listener in, and within seconds Mackin takes control to set the bar high for the rest of the band in terms of instrumentation. The band does indeed deliver and beautiful layered vocals during the interlude solidify the track’s top status as the best vocal work of the EP. The following guitar solo is a nice touch, but a more prominent and cleaner guitar sound would have made a great song even better.
After the fast paced and heartening song preceding it, “Powder” is somewhat surprising to stumble upon. Crunching guitars and artful violin playing provide duality for the song’s tale of a friend addicted to cocaine. The serious subject matter not often explored by a young band only elevates the group above their naive peers. It’s curious to note that Yellowcard don’t stick to the common “don’t do drugs” mantra, but rather give an introspective look at an individual’s fervent reliance on their drug of choice (‘There’s power in the powder’).
Though “Powder” is sure to throw some listeners for a loop, “Rocket” settles things again. It’s the perfect song for a lazy Sunday complete with long drawn vocals and peaceful guitar playing that are both sleep inducing. That is, until the distortion pedal is pushed down and Key loudly proclaims his love through family friendly similes ('I slip another smile in your pocket / My heart is racing to you like a rocket'). His message sent, Key quiets and a deliberately slow drum beat lulls the listener away from an EP that ends too soon.
Director: Michael Bay
Writers: Roberto Orci, Alex Kurtzman
Release Date: July 3, 2007 (USA)
I expected much worse. After watching the atrocity that was Spider-Man 3, I wasn't even planning to visit the movies to watch Transformers. Thanks to some positive reviews I decided to give it a chance, and I must say that the experience of visiting the local AMC was $7.50 well spent. When moving a beloved franchise to the big screen rule number one is remaining close to the source material, and the Transformers writers drop some great details on fanboys. Some great moments include the unmistakable transforming noise used during the first robot in disguise's appearance and the character of Sam's awkward use of the 'more than meets the eye' line.
The movie does drag a bit towards the midpoint and the top secret bunker under Hoover Dam is too close a flashback to Independence Day's portrayal of Area 51, but the battle scenes between the behemoth heroes and villains are impressive. I'm an outspoken critic of the overuse of computer effects in Hollywood, but Transformers utilizes the latest CGI technology to bring the Autobots and Decepticons to gorgeous life. The plot sticks close enough to franchise mythos to satisfy knowledgeable fans even if government involvement in the epic conflict seems heavy handed.
Transformers is a great movie for fans of the classic 80s series, Hasbro's abundant line of Transformers toys, and those looking for a big budget summer action movie that delivers. At the least it will wash the bad taste out of comic fans' mouths after having to sit through Spider-Man 3.
Now if only Ford was the official sponsor of the Autobots rather than Chevy...
Name Taken – The Silent Game
Release Date: 2001
Record Label: Top Notch Records
The welcome voice of bassist/singer Chad Atkinson singing a cappella at the introduction of “The Safety of Routine” gives The Silent Game an undeniably powerful start. Atkinson’s vocals are so confident and adult that it’s hard to believe that he, along with the other members of Name Taken (drummer Bret Meisenbach and guitarists Ryan Edwards and Blake Means), were mere teenagers when they created the EP.
This trend of youthful maturity continues with “For Sunday” in which Edwards and Means shine. Ignoring the uninspired power chord conventions of their scene they chase each other across their respective fretboards forming tightly woven patterns to set the dark mood of lyrics such as ‘And God why do I blame them? / I'm begging you to forgive me.’ During the breakdown the guitar duo alternate riffs from the left speaker to the right culminating with a frenzied message from Chad made all the more urgent by the fast paced rhythm courtesy of Meisenbach. If Chad’s striking vocals in “The Safety of Routine” are the initial draw, the instrumentation on “For Sunday” is what leaves the listener begging for more.
Following are “New Song” and “The Stupid Chad,” which have a more upbeat sound than “The Safety of Routine” and “For Sunday,” so they lack the desperation introduced by the first two tracks and continued by “Waiting.” Although Name Taken succeed in writing pop-rock comparable to the top bands of the genre, they’re best when brooding – the first two tracks of the EP stand tall above the rest.
“Feeling Sorry” is the only real low point of the EP due to the acoustic electric guitar used in the song. It has a grating quality that works to hinder Atkinson’s voice rather than enhance it. The poor quality of the instrument is so irksome, continuous listens only further warrant use of the ‘skip’ button on the final track.
Even with less than stellar label promotion throughout their career and a self-imposed hiatus to further their education, the members of Name Taken have built a loyal fan base always on call to receive new material from the band. And it’s no wonder after delving into The Silent Game – the EP is evidence of young and ambitious musicians who choose to bypass flash in favor of talent.
Many days of hard work and a wad of cash later and I finally get to hang out on my favourite (I like to pretend I'm English) website again. The best part of my return? My favourite user (now I'm overdoing it) *crying stars* was nice enough to update absolutepunk.net's wikipedia page by including me in the staff roster. I will not lie, I have been eagerly anticipating this moment.
Joe DeAndrea: News Poster
Blake Solomon: Reviewer / Good dude
Louise Heng: Interviewer / Photographer Adrian Villagomez: Entertainment News Poster/ Nameless Hero