The Dangerous Summer - An Acoustic Performance of Reach for the Sun
Release Date: March 15, 2011
Record Label: Hopeless Records
When The Dangerous Summer released Reach for the Sun in 2009, it catapulted the band to both critical acclaim and flat-out adoration from fans both new and old. Just check out Blake's review of the record, which says everything that needs to be said about one of the best albums in recent memory. Like Blake points out at the beginning of that review - that's not a hyperbole in any way at all. Reach for the Sun actually was one of the best, if not the best, records of its year, and frontman AJ Perdomo really did belt out one of the most memorable recorded performances that I've ever heard. Between the slicing and in-depth lyricism to shamelessly belting out his woes for all of us to hear, Perdomo struck gold when he was writing that album.
Now, as the band prepares to release more music in 2011, they've thrown fans a bone to chew on while they wait. An Acoustic Performance of Reach for the Sun is a darn good bone, though - one that we've tasted before but that brings with it a fresh new flavor. Considering how much Reach for the Sun leaned on its ambience-centered guitar work, provided by Cody Payne (comes complete with news headline-attracting powers!!), it's remarkable how well the band performs in an intimate and stripped-down setting.
Payne (comes complete with bottle-avoiding powers!!) does a very nice job of transitioning his original guitar work into the acoustic setting. On the original release of this record, the guitars were the standout of the band's tight musicianship, and proved to be the perfect complement to Perdomo's rough yet endlessly endearing vocals. Here, it's safe to say the guitars take a back seat again, letting Perdomo win listeners over on every track by himself. Where Payne (....nah) really does show his talent is in his ability to turn up the intensity of his instrument when needed. There are points during this acoustic rendition of the album ("Settle Down" and "This Is War" come to mind) where Payne's guitars easily carry as much emotion as Perdomo's vocals, and that's really saying something.
Furthermore, The Dangerous Summer successfully avoid coming off as cheesy or too pretentious with this release. While I adored Reach for the Sun, I can't say I was uberly stoked when an acoustic rendition got announced. But this band managed to provide recordings of much higher quality and relevancy than I could have imagined. An Acoustic Performance of Reach for the Sun really tears at you sometimes - it makes you want to listen to the normal version, but at the same time it offers its own quirks that make you reluctant to stop listening to it at all.
The release isn't without its missteps, though, as some of the tracks don't transition as well as others. "Weathered" comes across a bit awkwardly at times, and that's something to expect as this wasn't how the album was originally written. "The Permanent Rain" is also a major disappointment for me, as that song remains my favorite by this band and I was hoping to hear something much more ambitious with the remade version.
Now I know this band hasn't been shed in the best light lately, but reviewing the group based solely on talent, passion and execution, there aren't many better bands around. They have a unique sound, they're writing ambitious music and they aren't afraid to test their boundaries. Whether you decide to buy this acoustic rendition of Reach for the Sun or you don't want to give this particular band any of your cash is your choice. But either way, I'd most certainly recommend going out of your way to listen to this release.
This is all I've been listening to recently, but I definitely agree with the way a song or two loses some of their initial charm on this release.
And I also agree with what was said above about the production. I'd go so far as to say that's the weakest aspect of the album.
I only started listening to this band a month or so ago and I was absolutely blown away. It's like the first time I heard The Upsides, instant love. These acoustics only make a fantastic album even more endearing. The lyrics on this album are simply phenomenal and the music fits it perfectly. I can't wait for more from these guys.