For a long time I blamed bands using the same producers for all sounding the same. Well, I am going to have to re-evaluate that claim. I'm pretty sure (someone correct me if I'm wrong) that Matt Squire produced the three new Straylight Run tracks ... and they don't sound anything like his other bands. So maybe it's simply the fact that the other bands recording with him can't craft music themselves and so he has to walk them through melodies, structure, and the like - so in the end everything sounds the same because it's more Squire than anything else. The good thing here is ... that these songs are very distinctly Straylight Run - and they're really good.
I was curious how the band would sound without Michelle - but if you remember the original demos, she wasn't featured. And the truth is that you don't even notice the departure. I liked her in the background of songs - but most of the tracks with John taking lead featured his vocals alone. I look forward to her solo work, but it's great to see the band hasn't really lost anything with her going her own way. In fact ... they almost gain a little edge ... the rock and roll feel is there.
The band has a knack for songwriting. They are very good at what they do. When they want to put together concise, tight music they can (first two tracks) and when they want to experiment a little bit (third track) - they can and be successful.
This may be some of my favorite music from this band yet ... and I only wish there was more of it. Three tracks go by really quickly - and I have listened to them about 12 times already. "Try" is my favorite - the last minute of the song is insanely catchy, great melody, and it's catchy in this unique kind of way that makes the band stand out. It's one of those songs that when it ends you go, "damn, I wish I could write music like that."
All in all - well done. 3 great songs. As much as I was weary about what the band would do after their last release - they've simply upped the ante. The almost glossy production with the rough sound that's a staple of Straylight Run's vocals actually creates this interesting dichotomy. I really, really like it. Keep your eyes open for this release - I think fans of the demos + first album are going to absolutely adore the first two tracks, and then fans of the last album will love the third track as well as the first two. This band just makes good music - nothing much more to say.
PS: Don't forget you can click the "first impressions" tag to view all my thoughts on upcoming albums. I do this instead of actual album reviews now - and sometimes follow them up with more in-depth discussions of the album.
I was just reading over the questions John (from Straylight Run) took the time to answer on their myspace blog. First - it's amazing that he did this. He went out of his way to respond to our users ... that's just so cool. I don't think I could have any more respect for the man right now. I loved his answer about the AP community. Mainly because it's something I've thought about for a while ... the "negativity" perception that some people (and bands) have toward this community. I've always tried to explain it as a small group of vocal individuals - but I think John really hits it on the head as a select group that likes (or feels the need) to tear others down. I think that as a whole or community is not like that -- however, just the fact that a man I admire is spending his time thinking about this website I created in my parents' basement ... well ... that's something I can't really even comprehend.
It bothers me that musicians like this aren't able to make enough money/have a career. I've been thinking about ways I can help rectify that. Maybe some sort of foundation that can utilize a portion of the advertising revenue generated by a community of sites (led by AP obviously) that can then split up the revenue in a way that is distributed to bands for touring/recording/living. Of course this would need to generate millions of dollars ... but I don't think that's unfeasible at all. I haven't been able to put a whole lot of thought into this yet, but it's something on the back of my mind that I'd like to see come to fruition someday. I feel that these communities that thrive on bands and thrive on their interactions should have a way of giving back. I mean if myspace gave bands just a % of the revenue they drove to their profile/website ... I would imagine some of the bands that are popular but aren't selling records would see their entire careers changed.
Hmmmm ... just something on my mind. I'm going to go post news and cross my fingers the new album from The Matches comes in the mail today (I hear I'm the first outside of Epitaph to get a copy - I'm really fucking excited). I think everyone should give Straylight Run a listen today ... they deserve it.