Archive for the ‘Song-by-Song Reviews’ Category

Don’t Panic, All Time Low’s 5th studio installment, was released on October 9th, 2012 through the Hopeless Records label. Before I even begin to go into this I am just going to say that Don’t Panic is my 2nd favorite record of all time (right behind Simple Plan’s Still Not Gettin’ Any…)! This was a fantastic comeback for the boys from Balitmore! After they released Dirty Work, All Time Low was starting to follow the same path  as most pop/punk bands do as they near their 10 year anniversary, which is die. Honestly, looking back now, “Time Bomb” seemed to be the only song that I enjoy from that album. Fortunately for them, Don’t Panic is a hit! Debuting at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, Don’t Panic has allowed All Time Low to moisten the panties of 12 year old girls all over again.

I have been anticipating the release of Don’t Panic for a few months now and I drove an hour down to San Francisco to my nearest Amoeba Record store to grab my copy. I was so excited! I popped the CD into the car stereo and rolled my windows down as I sat in the infamous downtown San Fran traffic for nearly two hours. But I am happy to say that those were the most entertaining two hours of my life.

Don’t Panic starts off with a song called “The Reckless and the Brave”, the lead single for the album. Immediately I know that ATL will make this their new Intro song for touring purposes. This song kind of worried me though. I was preparing myself for what might have been 12 more unheard songs off Dirty Work. But as I started to listen more closely I was able to hear subtle similar guitar work to Nothing Personal. I did not really like this track off the bat, but kind of like Blink-182’s song “Up All Night”, it really grew on me.

“Backseat Serenade” is the second track on this pop/punk album. It features Cassadee Pope of former pop band Hey Monday! So I started to expect something of a duet. But nope! All I hear from her are simple harmonies which is quite unfortunate. Anyway, back to the song. Both verses are okay at best, but the chorus is probably one of the most powerful in the album! I can’t help but to sing along to “Backseat serenade, dizzy hurricane, oh god I’m sick of sleeping alone”. Very catchy and fun. Probably one of my favorites throughout!

The next song is titled, “If These Sheets Were The States” and this is undoubtedly my absolute favorite on this album for many reasons. The first reason is that it really reminds me of early All Time Low. Jack Barakat wrote a simple, but memorable guitar riff for the intro and I couldn’t wait to get home and learn it on guitar. I wanted to immediately cover this song with my old band. “If These Sheets Were The States” is not only musically fantastic but lyrically. It is about how far apart two individuals can feel from each other although they are sleeping together. I was also really stoked when I heard the bridge, Jack really knows how to work his guitar harmonies with Alex and they make it work.

“Somewhere In Neverland” was one of the three singles released to promote Don’t Panic and the fourth song in the album and quite frankly, I am not impressed. It sounds somewhat like a cheaply made demo song. The guitar tone has a little too much distortion and I don’t understand the meaning behind it at all. Alex Gaskarth has a reputation of writing songs about girls I really don’t think he even knows. I don’t know, it is an alright song but I just feel like it lacks heart.

Suddenly I hear this chunky guitar riff and a glimmer of hope ignites in my heart. “So Long Soldier” is the name of this classic punk rock song. Upbeat and fun, “So Long Soldier” reminds me that Alex, Jack, Zack, and Rian actually might have a pair of balls with held in those tight jeans. Although it is a short song, I really like it. It’s not what one might consider to be “typical All Time Low” but it definitely brings them back to the Blink-182 cover band days that I think we all miss.

“The Irony of Choking on a Lifesaver”? Oh All Time Low, why you so punny? All jokes aside this song just seems to me like a filler track. Basic vocals and nothing out of the ordinary for any band from this genre. It seems kind of like a chill, dance song. Anyway, not much else to say about this one. I usually just skip it anyway.

This next song is one of my favorites. “To Live and Let Go” follows up that “ehh” song. I am not really sure why I like this one so much. I think it is just the passion I feel from Alex’s vocals that make this one so great. Rian Dawson’s drum work also stood out a lot in the duration of the song. The somewhat off bass drum notes really add a little more variety to this and keep it from being the basic 2, 4 drums we all know so well.

Co-written by Fall Out Boy’s own Patrick Stump, “Outlines”, was expected to be one of the major hits on Don’t Panic but I disagree. Before Don’t Panic was released I saw the album trailer on YouTube and this was one of the featured tracks and I was pretty stoked to hear it. But after listening to the entire thing, I just felt bored. Other than the chorus, nothing really shines or stands out to me. I think it had more potential, but its alright overall.

“Thanks To You” is something I would have expected to find on Dirty Work. Seems like another filler track from the get-go, but if you give it the light of day and wait about 15 seconds your opinion is likely to change. This song was a pleasant surprise and pulled me back in. All too much, when listening to a new album I hit the point where I really lose interest and start blanking out and I focus on everything BUT the songs. This song was placed in just the right spot to pull the audience back in.

Nearing the end of Don’t Panic I start to expect more filler tracks when “For Baltimore” comes on. This is one of my favorite All Time Low songs in general. This is a definite set list song for their future songs. Very catchy and poppy which I, for one, am I total sucker for. Every part of this song is perfect. I love every word to every transition to every guitar chord. I can’t wait to see the boys play this one live as I know I will stop moshing and sing alongside all them 12 year olds. I definitely recommend this song to anyone who wants to expand their iTunes library. I love this one!

“Paint You Wings” starts off with a really sick guitar intro. This song has what I like to call “meat”. It’s full of just everything I look for! I am in love with Alex’s vocal melody in the verse. Something about the minor descent really just makes my tummy all rumbly. Great song! Very fun to sing along to and play on guitar.

“So Long, and Thanks for All the Booze” is the final song in Don’t Panic. If you have stuck around this review long enough, you deserve a slice of pie. It isn’t the way I expected the album to end. Other than the “Gimme, gimme my motivation” the song is somewhat of a bore. Sure, it has a lot of pop/punk influence in it, but its not something I can see myself listening to over and over. However, I do feel like it might be a good song to stick in a Sonic game. I can just see that blue hedgehog running his ass down a hill collecting all them coins.

Overall, Don’t Panic is a fantastic album and comeback for the guys and I cannot wait to see them play live in a week! I love it and although it may feel like a lot of the same, Don’t Panic has potential to bring back some forgotten pop/punk fans. I give it a 9.5/10 and would recommend this to anyone and everyone!

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In June of 2011, Simple Plan released their 4th full-length album, Get Your Heart On!, to the world.  Meant to be easily mistaken for “get your hard on”, Simple Plan shows off their ability to master all things pop/punk.  This album truly got both my heart and hard on.  I have been a fan of Simple Plan since 2004 and have never been disappointed.  Pierre, Chuck, David, Seb, and Jeff have all inspired me to become a musician and to carry out my dreams.  Simple Plan is truly a powerful combination both musically and influentially.

Since the record’s release in June I have listened to Get Your Heart On! at least 304 times (according to my iTunes) and it is still as beautiful as the first time I heard it.  Simple Plan experimented with a handful of new techniques in this CD.  “We wrote about 70 full songs for this album and eventually chose the best 11,” said Pierre Bouvier (Lead singer).  However, their hard work and dedication did not go unnoticed, Get Your Heart On! is undoubtedly my favorite album of all time!

The record starts off with a song called “You Suck At Love”.  From the get go I realize this is not the same Simple Plan I remember.  Unlike the new Blink-182, Simple Plan has changed for the better.  This song is a great opener for Get Your Heart On! and foreshadows what the remainder of the album will sound like.  Although there was one thing in particular that I noticed in this song, the pop/punk breakdown.  This isn’t your normal screaming, blasting double bass sort of breakdown.  No, this is the head-bobbing, major chord progression that makes you want to do nothing but jump!

Immediately following the debut song of Get Your Heart On! is “Can’t Keep My Hands Off You”.  For this song, Simple Plan paired up with punk rock vocalist Rivers Cuomo of Weezer to put forth yet another catchy signature SP classic.  This song really brings me back to the early days of Simple Plan where stereotypical drum beats and catchy choruses defined their name.  My band, Watching The Soundset, covers “Can’t Keep My Hands Off You” and we always end with it because of the fantastic energy that we draw with it.  Pierre Bouvier threw in some odd lyrics during the writing of this song.  “There’s fungus growing in the ice box, all I’ve got left are fruit roll-ups,” sings Rivers Cuomo.  It takes the listener a few times to fully understand the meaning behind it, but once realized, the deeper message becomes clear and is evidence of the incredible song writing ability this band carries with them.

“Jet Lag”, the single released to help get the fans buzzing about the album was not really one of my favorites.  When I heard this song for the first time I was truly disappointed and worried that the album would be a bust.  Teaming up with vocal phenomenon, Natasha Bedingfield, Simple Plan describes the hardships of being away from the one you love.  I’ll cut the crap and tell you how it is.  I’ve heard this song far too many times, watched the music video time and time again, and I still cannot understand why these lyrics are so stupid.  I understand the message they attempt to get across, but the delivery sucked.

“Astronaut” is the 4th song off of Get Your Heart On! and I am surprised that it is as popular as portrayed on the internet.  I have asked many fellow SP fans what their favorite song off the album was and the majority answered “Astronaut”.  I have trouble comprehending the impact that this song has on people.  Apparently it helps people get through tough situations, but I can’t relate.  I do enjoy the  spacy, atmospheric synths throughout the tune, but that is about all I like.

Another top song off this album has to be “Loser Of The Year”.  This song really demonstrates SP’s use of new techniques and effects to make their music stand out.  Just before the chorus, a synthesizer builds up to a easily distinguished chorus.  All parts of this song compliment one another and flow beautifully.  I only wish that SP would make a music video of it. Bummer..

The 6th song off Get Your Heart On! is called “Anywhere Else But Here”.  Simple Plan approached this song a bit differently than the rest.  The clear use of odd guitar effects makes this song a hit or miss for some people.  Personally I feel it sounds a lot similar to the songs off SP’s third album and would find a much more comfortable home amongst those songs.

Any pop/punk lover should love the 7th song, or so that’s what I thought when I saw who it featured: Alex Gaskarth of All Time Low.  My immidiate reaction was something like, “HELL YEA!”, but after hearing the song I was severely disappointed.  “Freaking Me Out” is probably one of my least favorite songs written by Simple Plan.  I’m not sure why, but I just have trouble feeling this song.

“Summer Paradise” is my personal favorite song off this album and possibly of any song by the band.  This song features R&B/Hip-Hop sensation, K’naan.  “Summer Paradise” is just one of those tunes you want to listen to, cola in hand, laying on the beach.  It screams relaxation and I can’t help but reminisce of the best times of my life while hearing this song.  I normally do not appreciate rap, but I feel as if K’naan was the perfect artist to collab with for this song.  I have driven in the car with my friends and we’ll all be singing/rapping along with this song and it just really has this amazing feeling to it.

Simple Plan has a tendency to slow things down and get serious in every album.  “Gone Too Soon” proves this theory of mine.  Simple Plan does an amazing job at writing lyrics that can connect to problems everyone faces.  This song explains the difficulties of moving on after a death.  I have recently lost an important member to my family.  My dog, Bella, passed on a few weeks ago and it’s taken quite a toll on my family and I.  While grieving, I heard “Gone Too Soon” and it made me feel better almost instantaneously.  It was as though she was still there shining down upon us.  The fact that Simple Plan can show this in a song is truly amazing.

The second to last song off of Get Your Heart On! is called “Last One Standing”.  The first time listening to this album I truly thought this was an outstanding song, but as I continued to hear the record, it quickly lost interest.  It seems like it had potential when they wrote it, but when they brought it into the studio the song never reached its full capabilities.

Simple Plan ends this over-the-top record with a song called “This Song Saved My Life”.  This song was supposedly written by the fans for the fans.  Simple Plan used Twitter posts to help inspire them during the writing process of “This Song Saved My Life”.  Jeff Stinco (Guitarist) was quoted saying that, “Simple Plan has always been about the fans.”  Many bands say this, but very few mean it.  Simple Plan makes it clear that they are doing it for the fans and not for the fame or fortune.

 

Get Your Heart On! is easily one of my favorite records of all time!  I love this album and will continue to listen to and support Simple Plan.  This album is a 10+/10 and I would recommend it to anyone who likes music at all.