My good friends over at Oblivious Pop put on a show with Bowery Electric last night, and I was there for the full sordid affair.
To start off, Bowery Electric was not the ideal location for a first time show producer to do their work. The entire Oblivious Pop team is under 21, and since it was a 21+ show, we were all a hot second from getting kicked out by the venue manager. She was pleasant. And by pleasant I mean unpleasant. Then the sound crew didn't have the cables needed to hook up a mac to the sound system, so after I made a half a dozen calls and was on hold with Guitar Center for the length of an Eagles song, we had to send one of the artists out to pick up the equipment. The adapter then had to be held onto her computer with electrical tape. Smashing.
So as we nervously shook our knees and tensed our shoulders, there was an air of apprehension. Of this perhaps being the end of unblossomed careers. Of our underage bodies being ravaged by the industry and thrown into the gutters.
But that was ridiculous, because the show was flawless.
The first act was a Bowery selection, four lovely lads that go by Gift Horse. The music was the sound of a highway passing, with beats that separated it from coffee-house fare. It was the best of 90's soft rock voices, gorgeous surfy guitars, and a bass that don't quit. In fact, the bass was the main attraction. Gift Horse travels well, from country road to upbeat city street. The standout track of the night was "Siren Song," which I recommend listening to ASAP.
Under the release tag of "GRR" (George Ryan Ross), Ryan Ross has released two more tracks, this time of his own volition.
The tracks, "I'm Down" and "Lonely Moonlight," both have a pop-rock vibe with a dark synth vibe across the back. The keys and drums on "I'm Down" are a unique experience that serve as a great reminder of just how musically brilliant Ryan is. There's a hint of harpsichord in "Lonely Moonlight" that would be hard to pull off if it wasn't coming from the former king of baroque cabaret pop punk.
Pax Am Days, Fall Out Boy's surprise "album," is a surprise in more ways than one. Fall Out Boy is a band notorious for their meticulousness and their long battles over melody and lyrics. Patrick Stump and Pete Wentz have been known to argue about the placement of a syllable for days. ButPax Am Days is a rough, true-to-punk, glorious car crash of an album. WhereSave Rock and Roll was evidence of the growth Fall Out Boy needed to come back together, Pax Am Daysis proof that the boys have rediscovered the joy in making music together.
The longest song, "Caffeine Cold," is two and a half minutes, but most run about a minute and a half, packing in as much energy and ferocious guitar riffing as possible. What separates this album from a run of the mill punk bonanza is Patrick Stump's vocals, which are in their Infinity On High glory, deep and reverberating over massive chords from Joe Trohman and adrenaline shot basslines from Pete Wentz. Andy Hurley's hardcore roots are in their prime here, and the power that was missing from Save Rock and Roll's drum loops works in overtime here.
The song most similar to classic Fall Out Boy form is probably "Hot To The Touch, Cold On The Inside," which showcases the lyrical prowess that is often missing from punk songs.
Pax Am Days is a return to the hardcore influences that birthed Take This To Your Grave, but with a higher level of refinement and skill that Fall Out Boy has become known for bringing to the pop punk scene.
When Panic! At The Disco released their album a week early, I debated listening, but gave in after a very fast and one-sided argument with myself.
My first mistake was watching the grainy, artfully ugly video loops of the Vegas strip that accompanied the tracks. In an uncomfortable way, the footage matched the music, and so the uncomfortably poor footage became forever attached to the songs for me, and thus my ability to listen to them was tainted.
My second mistake was assuming the entirety of TWTLTRTD would aesthetically mesh with the previously released singles. Panic! has always pulled bait and switch with their musical styles, but I was so confused as to be off-put by the songs. I found myself wondering if this could be the Panic! album that quelled my love of the band.
But I've listened a second time.
And a third time.
And there's a maturity here that was missing from Vices and Virtues. The album still misses the lyrical and musical soul that existed in the first two albums. But Ryan Ross has moved on so I'll do the same.
The first singles off the album, "Miss Jackson" and "This Is Gospel," are still my easy favorites, their more alternative sound and rougher vocals are standouts amongst the more synth-laden songs that populate the rest of the record.
"Girls/Girls/Boys" is a beautiful anthem of bisexuality and denial, and is the band's favorite track off the album. The vulnerability of the song as portrayed in the video brings a new dimension to the album as a whole, paralleled in the final track "The End Of All Things," which is lyrically and musically tender in a way the rest of the album is not.
Nicotine was the highlight of the album for me, it's a track that manages to seamlessly combine the raw beauty of Brendon's unaltered voice with the clean synths that Panic! has come to favor.
The album is yet another departure in a series of departures that makes up Panic!'s discography, and it deserves a consideration and contemplation not always afforded to bands that make the transition to pop music.