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Album Review
Controlling The Famous - Automatic City Album Cover

Controlling The Famous - Automatic City

Reviewed by
9.0
Controlling The Famous - Automatic City
Release Date: May 16th, 2006
Record Label: The Militia Group

Every year there are a handful of releases that the majority of people in a particular "scene" are highly anticipating (Brand New, Thursday, mewithoutYou, AFI, Taking Back Sunday and so forth just to name a few for 2006). Sometimes these albums live up to or even beyond the hype and anticipation; however, there are times when the bands who have made a name for themselves and established quite a fan base release albums that are sub par and/or don't meet the expectations of a lot of fans, even to the point of alienating them.

To counteract this problem, we have "sleeper albums." These are records that come out without much buzz, hype or promotion, but are quite good. Not too many people hear about the record, let alone the band, and usually miss out on some of the best music that year (there are instances where for some reason they'll get discovered after a significant amount of time has passed since its release date). Personally, it's always a treat to find these "gems" and to be able to spread the word and love on them, helping more and more people to become familiar with the act and songs.

Well, allow me to introduce you to one of these "sleeper" bands and albums of 2006. Controlling The Famous, a very technical post-rock quartet, has released a pleasant surprise known as Automatic City. Who? I know, I know; I hadn’t heard of them until they recently were picked up by The Militia Group (who has gone on an indie signing spree as of late: Brandtson, The Jealous Sound). But don’t let that hold you back from attempting to get familiar with this experience. From start to finish, we're treated to a very unique, yet catchy album chock full of listener friendly choruses and sing-a-longs. Their work has noticeable influences, but they crafted a perfect blend of something totally new and fresh. With guitar work reminiscent to that of Minus The Bear and an overall sound drawing comparisons to Small Brown Bike's later work, these guys spin a web of melodies and harmonies that won't get out of your head, causing you to listen to this album over, and over, and over again.

“Detox” sets everything in motion with its finger lickin’, vibrating guitar and slap happy bass echoing, while the drums “run their fingers through” the rhythm and the raspy vocals state their case at the end of each line right on beat. This opening track alone is what’s going to reach in, grab you by the collar and pull you closer to the speakers. That’s exactly what happened to me. As soon as I heard this, the few opening seconds, I was hooked and couldn’t let go. As you’ll see throughout the whole album, the production more than highlights and showcases the power of the bass and drums and is exactly what makes this listening experience so addictive.

Things don’t let down as you quickly transition into “Heart Attack,” which in the intro has a very similar vibe to “Cautioners” by Jimmy Eat World. Serving as a perfect example for this album’s ear-appeal, the chorus proclaims: “I need a minute to sleep through my heart attack/when I wake, when I wake/it’ll be right back,” which is followed by a slow, eerie verse before kicking back into the original pace. Without straying too far from this formula, the rest of the album, especially: “Highway Parking Lot,” “Easy Life,” “If You Die” and “Maybe We’re Dead” instantly reel you in from the first second, get your ears perked up and have you tapping your feet and snapping your fingers. After two or three listens of these tracks, you’ll be shouting back all the words.

Even though this is one of my favorite releases of the year and came out of left field, it still doesn’t mean it’s flawless. “Two Sides” doesn’t have the same spark and draw that the other tracks showcase and is pretty forgettable as soon as it’s done. The same can be said for the album’s conclusion, the Pink Floyd resembling “Devil’s Suitcase,” which clocks in at 6:53. It doesn’t really tickle the ears, or mind either, and in order to get back to the beginning I find myself skipping it. Either way, you still have a more than solid album here which won’t let you out of its sight that easy. Perfectly fitting production and unique yet catchy indie-rock will make a lot of people smile and glad to see there’s something refreshing still being done out there. As I stated, though, this disc is very “sugary” and addictive. It’s safe to say you’ll be instantly hooked, at least very curious, from the first second and won’t be able to hit stop. The least you can do is visit Automatic City in order to see if you like it; and if you don’t, then you’re not obliged to stay.

Additional InformationTracklisting
01. Detox
02. Heart Attack
03. Highway Parking Lot
04. Easy Life
05. If You Die
06. Two Sides
07. Long Day
08. Maybe We're Dead
09. Pyromaniac
10. Devil's Suitcase

Band Members
John Dockerty Collins (Guitar/Vocals)
Maxwell Boone Hellmann, Jr. (Guitar/Vocals)
Brendan Robert Hughes (Bass)
Mike Larson Schneider (Drums)
This review is a user submitted review from Jared Kaufman. You can see all of Jared Kaufman's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 28
12:57 PM on 05/25/06
#2
Mitch
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Good review. I like Devil's Suitcase a lot though, probably my favorite on the album.

Oh, track 6 isn't untitled--the Gracenote CDDB thing is wrong, if that's what you used to get the track titles off of the album. The actual album says it is called Two Sides
01:00 PM on 05/25/06
#3
Jared Kaufman
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Originally Posted by Mitch2742
Good review. I like Devil's Suitcase a lot though, probably my favorite on the album.

Oh, track 6 isn't untitled--the Gracenote CDDB thing is wrong, if that's what you used to get the track titles off of the album. The actual album says it is called Two Sides
Fixed. Thanks.
01:00 PM on 05/25/06
#4
Waltz Whitman
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very good band. i have their ep and cant wait to pick this up
01:21 PM on 05/25/06
#5
Ryan Imhof
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"highway parking lot" and "Detox" are my favorite songs off of this album. This is one of the first releases this year where i can listen to the whole album and enjoy every song.
01:23 PM on 05/25/06
#6
jusscali
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Originally Posted by Mitch2742
Good review. I like Devil's Suitcase a lot though, probably my favorite on the album.

Oh, track 6 isn't untitled--the Gracenote CDDB thing is wrong, if that's what you used to get the track titles off of the album. The actual album says it is called Two Sides
good stuff. the vocal is meh, but the guitar work is wonderful on this album. deff a sleeper, but ive had a few this year already. nice review. i dont know if id rate it as high, but i enjoyed the read.
01:23 PM on 05/25/06
#7
jusscali
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Originally Posted by Ryan Imhof
"highway parking lot" and "Detox" are my favorite songs off of this album. This is one of the first releases this year where i can listen to the whole album and enjoy every song.
i think highway parking lot is my favorite on the album as well
01:26 PM on 05/25/06
#8
Mitch
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Only complaint I have with this album is the length. While it hits the 40 minute mark (I think, I don't remember exactly), it feels like it lasts way too short.

Also, I want the lyrics! I messaged them on Myspace and the guy said he'd e-mail them to me but he never did.
02:18 PM on 05/25/06
#9
heyjohnnyfive
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Glad to hear a good review, this CD is amazing. I agree with the review, except for the song "Two Sides" which is my favorite song, I love the lyrics.
02:21 PM on 05/25/06
Steve Henderson
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Reminds me of The Kidcrash a lot.
02:25 PM on 05/25/06
zizou1790
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yeah i like this album, good review
02:29 PM on 05/25/06
coandca33
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I agree that this band is an amazing sleeper band but to call it sugary is completely off the mark. I'd actually consider it to be rather raw and technical compared to acts like Cartel and The Panic Division, which are without a doubt "sugary". This is what is so great about CTF, they aren't the typical pop-rock Militia Group band as they avoid that label, but the guitar and vocal work is so great that it becomes instantly memorable, void of any cheesy choruses or sugary guitar licks.
02:33 PM on 05/25/06
TonyJ
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i was a little let down by this album.
02:57 PM on 05/25/06
Jared Kaufman
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Originally Posted by coandca33
I agree that this band is an amazing sleeper band but to call it sugary is completely off the mark. I'd actually consider it to be rather raw and technical compared to acts like Cartel and The Panic Division, which are without a doubt "sugary". This is what is so great about CTF, they aren't the typical pop-rock Militia Group band as they avoid that label, but the guitar and vocal work is so great that it becomes instantly memorable, void of any cheesy choruses or sugary guitar licks.
That's actually what I was trying to say. Haha. Sorry.

I just meant it's really addicting.
03:06 PM on 05/25/06
llwin
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really really good review. completely agree with you. some things you say are so true. i could have said just the same.

especially when you say:

"It’s safe to say you’ll be instantly hooked, at least very curious, from the first second and won’t be able to hit stop. The least you can do is visit Automatic City in order to see if you like it; and if you don’t, then you’re not obliged to stay. "

this is right what has happened to me!

this band released a really good album indeed.

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