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Waking Ashland - The Well Album Cover

Waking Ashland - The Well

Reviewed by
8.2
Waking Ashland - The Well
Record Label - Immortal Records
Release Date - April 17, 2007

I have been lucky enough to follow the career of Waking Ashland from the very beginning when they were still being talked about as one of the best unsigned bands on many music sites, including this one. I also remember the band’s success when they were selling their self-released EP hand over fist, selling out their initial pressing of 1,000 in a month and their inclusion in Alternative Press’ “100 Bands To Watch” feature in 2005. It has been incredible to watch the band grow and achieve more success with each release. I was quite excited to listen to the Absolute Exclusive of “Your Intentions” when it was first posted and I soon found myself listening to that song many times a day.

I expected instantly accessible songs like “Your Intentions” to dominate the album from start to finish, but I was instantly proven wrong with “Salt Lake Jam” which places more emphasis on the “rock” than the “piano” in the term piano rock. The style change disappointed me at first, but I slowly warmed up to it. Singer/keyboardist Jonathan Jones has an instantly accessible voice that is silky smooth and serves as the perfect counterbalance to the foot-stomping rock that dominates “Salt Lake Jam”. Guitarist Ryan Lallier’s classic rock inspired solos add a well-welcomed flair. “Your Intentions” captures a live spark of energy that seems to be missing from the opening tracks and has a little more intensity behind it. “Your Intentions” is one of the more engaging tracks on the album with its punching guitar melodies and a chorus that is so infectious, you will find yourself singing along with gusto after only a few listens.

“Diamonds On The Hillside” is a more laidback track but still features the same underlying sunny pop melodies strewn through the disc and focuses more attention on the piano than some of the other tracks. While the album does retain the band’s pop sensibility, the slower more experimental tracks such as “Diamonds On The Hillside” tend to fall flat and leave relatively no lasting impression. “Change” marks the perfect balance between the bands slower side and their flair for hook laden guitar-driven songs and serves as an excellent picker upper following the relatively tame “Diamonds On The Hillside”. The song sounds a lot sleeker than the other tracks on the album, and with “Your Intentions”, is one of the albums “single worthy” tracks.

Jones turns in another excellent vocal performance on “Mark Like Mine”, which is another stellar track on the album and finds the band utilizing their slower side without getting too boring. While most of The Well finds the piano taking the backseat to the other instruments, “Mark Like Mine” finds it being brought to the forefront. This song tugs on the heartstrings quite well and could easily be used in place of many cliché selections as the last dance to senior proms across the country or used in a well-constructed mix-tape for those who do not partake in prom. “Let It Ring” and “Looking Alive” abandon the sunny and warm pop sounds found in the beginning of the album and instead focus on a more streamlined rock sound. However, the band returns to their bubbly pop roots on “Money”, a song that details the negative effect money can have on artists and performers while also lashing out at the watered down state of entertainment.

Upon initial listen, I felt The Well was a lackluster release and was mildly let down. However, with each additional listen the album slowly grew on me until I could not keep it out of my stereo and walkman. There are some inconsistencies, especially in the lyrical department, but The Well is a solid springtime release that will be sure to see many spins from diehard Waking Ashland fans. However, for the casual fan or even some of the diehard fans, the stylistic change will not go over well and may turn some listeners off to the release. This album is a grower, and I recommend giving it a few spins before deciding whether or not Waking Ashland’s style change was for better or worse.


Standout Tracks“Your Intentions", “Change”, and “Mark Like Mine”
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This review is a user submitted review from Rich Duncan. You can see all of Rich Duncan's submitted reviews here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 33
09:56 PM on 04/10/07
#2
Chris Fallon
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I thoroughly enjoyed your review, Rich and I agree wholeheartedly with your score and critique.

I'm torn between this album and Composure because the first half of this disc is, in my opinion, better than their last record. Seems like they've grown as musicians quite a bit. Yet the last half lacks some, and I feel like Composure was a teriffic album through and through.

Still...this is an album that demands to be heard and I hope they get more of a fanbase with this great release.
12:32 AM on 04/11/07
#3
TheHeretic
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I was never a big Waking Ashland fan, but this album has totally changed that for me. I keep playing this record over and over, I love it. By the way, does anyone hear the similarity between 'If they don't wanna let you, I'm not gonna make you' and the way it's sung in 'Change' and a particular Motion City Soundtrack song?
01:56 AM on 04/11/07
#4
keys1982
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Good musicians, nice guys.
02:24 AM on 04/11/07
#5
S9Dallasoz
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Loved the last record.

Had to force myself to finish this one...was less than impressed.

Hopefully this is a grower as you suggested.
04:41 AM on 04/11/07
#6
Tony Pascarella
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Good review, Rich, but I really disagree with it. I gave the album a lot more chances than I should have, but it's awful. With the influx of piano rock albums this year, every other band I've heard has left Waking Ashland in the dust.
06:30 AM on 04/11/07
#7
Rich Duncan
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Good review, Rich, but I really disagree with it. I gave the album a lot more chances than I should have, but it's awful. With the influx of piano rock albums this year, every other band I've heard has left Waking Ashland in the dust.

Thanks. Yeah I know a lot of people won't like it, I didn't even at first, but for some reason this album grew on me. I do agree with you that there are better piano rock albums this year though. Thanks for reading!
06:32 AM on 04/11/07
#8
Mattx
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Having only listened to this once I have to agree with your statement:

Quote:
Upon initial listen, I felt The Well was a lackluster release and was mildly let down.

That's definitely how I felt. I really liked Composure but the change in style on this album just does nothing for me. I'll try and take your advice and listen to this again before making a final decision but frankly I'd be surprised if I can actually sit through it all again...
06:41 AM on 04/11/07
#9
Rich Duncan
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Having only listened to this once I have to agree with your statement:



That's definitely how I felt. I really liked Composure but the change in style on this album just does nothing for me. I'll try and take your advice and listen to this again before making a final decision but frankly I'd be surprised if I can actually sit through it all again...

Yeah, not everyone is going to like it, I just hope to see people at least give it a chance before writing it off completely.
06:43 AM on 04/11/07
Jason Tate
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Good review; however, I honestly couldn't get through the CD. I put it on at least 4 or 5 times ... each time thinking I could get into it ... each time I was wrong. I just can't find a single thing I like about it -- and this is coming from someone who 1) loves piano music, 2) once called Waking Ashland the best current unsigned band.

I was thoroughly let down by this release.
06:46 AM on 04/11/07
matt_rawlings
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The lyrics on this album are terrible, truly terrible
06:46 AM on 04/11/07
Rich Duncan
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Good review; however, I honestly couldn't get through the CD. I put it on at least 4 or 5 times ... each time thinking I could get into it ... each time I was wrong. I just can't find a single thing I like about it -- and this is coming from someone who 1) loves piano music, 2) once called Waking Ashland the best current unsigned band.

I was thoroughly let down by this release.

Thats understandable and I can respect that opinion. I guess its one of those albums people will either enjoy or hate with little in between, and I hated it at first but something about it clicked with me (although some of the songs I still feel are a little weak). By the way, if you like piano music check out Lost Ocean if you haven't already.
08:00 AM on 04/11/07
Ryan Imhof
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I have not heard this but now I want to, I really enjoyed Composure.
08:03 AM on 04/11/07
tacosforcharles
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Good review Rich. I really like "Your Intentions" and "Salt Lake Jam" so I'm hoping I like the rest of the album. I've been into these guys for a while and I really don't wanna be let down by this release.
08:10 AM on 04/11/07
Steve Henderson
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Good review, Rich, but I really disagree with it. I gave the album a lot more chances than I should have, but it's awful. With the influx of piano rock albums this year, every other band I've heard has left Waking Ashland in the dust.

Agreed...this is one of the year's biggest disappointments for me.

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