Yes, I’m going to sound like a snob here for a second, but I saw these guys back when they weren’t nothin’. I saw them play a number of times in their (and my) hometown of Albany, NY, and they were an incredibly tight, exciting live band and I picked up a copy of their proper debut, the self-released Circus Music. I lost touch with what was happening with them as they grew in popularity. Now they’ve been written up in Alternative Press as band to watch and are poised to be potentially quite big. But the band I hear on their self-titled release barely resembles the one I remember. What happened to the horn section? What happened to the songs that would veer off into uncharted waters with little warning?
The jazz and prog elements that so attracted me to the band in the first place have been left behind in the wake of continued and continuing success, and unfortunately that leaves their other most prominent musical strain to take up the slack. That strain is one of my personally most reviled genres; EMO. As a result, this album is filled with emo-by-numbers, with only the last song, “Open Doors” hinting at what they used to be. The organ and flute of their past recordings are still present but have been pushed back tremendously. As for the trumpets, I counted four notes of trumpet on the entire album, although I admit I zoned out for a few songs in the middle.
So like I said, what was good about the band is gone; they even fired the singer and replaced him with an Emo Voice® player. Every syllable out of this guy’s mouth is so over-emphasized as to make it a parody not just of singing but of emotion itself. It wasn’t like that on the older stuff.
I’m really sorry dudes and dudette; I wanted to like this album and sing the praises of hometown heroes. Unfortunately you’ve changed yourselves so much that you’ve vicariously changed me into the bitter jerk lamenting the ‘death’ of one the bands from the local scene. You broke my hearts with this one, gang.
// Notes from the Road
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