The Calling: II

Jason MacNeil

The Calling


Label: BMG
US Release Date: 2004-06-08
UK Release Date: 2004-05-31

"If I could turn back time..." Oops, sorry, just remembering it was 4,213 times that I heard the Calling's "Wherever You Will Go." Yep, give or take 11 times! The band with the hook, chorus, and melody of the summer of 2002 is back with a new album. And like every other band that hits gold on its first go-around, II is more than likely bound to disappoint some people. But they would be in the vast minority here! That is for the first half offerings...

Singer Alex Band and guitarist Aaron Kamin spent a lot of time and effort ono making the dreaded sophomore album. From the opening notes of "One By One," they probably could've tossed this one aside for good. Kamin's guitar riff and the light, melodic yet melancholic sound is just one step removed from what you might see from "country" bands like Emerson Drive -- slick, polished arrangements that sound somewhat appealing but not that concrete and lacking some soul. It's basically something you've heard from Matchbox Twenty.

"Our Lives" brings to mind their hit song with a slow-building style that Band takes control over after Kamin offers some decent riffs and another fine hook that is ideal for saying the hell with one's hair and taking down the convertible roof. The brief moments before the chorus are a tad arduous but worth the brief wait! Another strong point is the bridge that the Calling doesn't throw away like so many other new groups do. Band sounds quite strong here and they fully flesh out the conclusion, which never ever hurts. From there an anthem-like U2 opening starts "Things Will Go My Way", which then veers into more of a power ballad à la Creed without that annoying pompous characteristic. The song comes apart at the seams though in the bridge as Band and company decide to raise the rock bar with less-than-impressive outcomes.

Perhaps the greatest trait to this record is that one gets the impression that last record wasn't a one-shot wonder, as more meaty hooks are thrown out during the gorgeous and limb-moving, slow-galloping "Chasing The Sun". "She's like a sweet summer, a sweet summer day / And I can't let her, I can't let her go to waste," Band sings as Josh Freese makes a guest appearance pounding the skins. The reflective "Believing" takes the album down too far, though, and is the polar opposite of the previous song, perfect adult contemporary pop, but at the same time relatively safe and edgeless. It's the type of song that you might listen to toweling off in a shower but that you wouldn't run out to the local record shop to seek out. Again the U2 overtones are discerned quite easily on the strong "Anything" that brings to mind "Beautiful Day" in some respects. "I will be there to catch you when you fall down," Band sings as harmonies are layered on top.

All albums tend to have their complete, head-shaking clunkers, and II has its on the slower, quasi-soulful "If Only". It's a tune that's best left to blues-based bands and not groups who opt for strings and a classical-tinted angle. Band tries his best to sell the song with decent vocals but it's not nearly enough to make the grade. They don't get out of this rut with the bland and uninspired "Somebody Out There", which sounds like a replica of the previous horrid apathetic ditty. "Surrender" is a tad better and more patio pop or up-tempo oriented with its quirky, Dave Matthews-like backbeat. Ditto for "Dreaming In Red"! By this time it sounds as if the Calling were trying to do their best to distance themselves from the proverbial side one that had the hooks. Here the melody is the pseudo-king but not that often.

The Calling found their calling in making shiny, shimmering, and glistening pop rock radio nuggets. Don't screw with the blueprint, guys...

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.