Review: Clear Eyes Fanzine – Season One, Episodes 1-6

I’ve never seen “Friday Night Lights”, movie or television series, but I constantly hear about how great of a series it is. The evidence is clearly mounting after the creation of Clear Eyes Fanzine, a side project from Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years and Ace Enders of The Early November. Season One, Episodes 1-6 is exactly what it sounds like. Both Ace and Dan provide three songs inspired by each episode. It’s a great concept that has created some of the most intense, provoking and emotionally wrenching songs either songwriter has ever written.

You can buy Season One, Episodes 1-6 on Bandcamp.

The main takeaway from SO, E1-6 is how much these songs sound like Campbell and Enders. The first three tracks, written by Campbell are basically tracks from Aaron West & The Roaring Twenties. The second half of the record is Enders prominently displaying his penchant for atmospheric minimalism that his I Can Make a Mess project has perfected. There aren’t any surprises, just damn good songs.

Campbell’s side of the record focuses on physical ailments and trauma. Whether that be physical exhaustion and determination from “On Tim Riggins as He Prepares for His Sophomore Year” (“I puked through my mask / And the smell never fucking leaves”), or brain trauma of CTE from “Coming Up for Air” (“I don’t talk about the headaches / I don’t talk about the nights when I forget where we are”), Campbell’s descriptions of the damage from playing football are brutal and unforgiving. It’s also some of his best work to date.

Enders, taking the back half, focuses much more on the emotional toll of the characters. His songs are ethereal and soft, feeding the energy of emotional drama. “Good Get Coach” begins with whispers and Enders harmonizing with himself before exploding with a chorus of, “Another rivalry begins, watching you watching him / I wish that I could let myself just let it all out”. Meanwhile, “The Fields” explores a back and forth conversation between characters. Enders sings, “I hate that they get applauded / It’s just a stupid game / In 15 years, that varsity jacket just won’t wear the same”, before the chorus kicks in with a differing viewpoint: “In the field, we fight for our tiny lives / It tore my father down, cuz nobody gets out”.

Clear Eyes Fanzine is fun, emotionally draining and comes from two songwriters who love “Friday Night Lights”. While each artist’s songs are incredible, the wasted opportunity for the two to share a song together is astounding. However, there’s always hope for the next few episodes. As a whole piece, the EP is an emotionally gripping exercise in writing.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and HAS TOO MUCH TELEVISION!!! There is so much to watch, and not enough time to learn how to make wicker baskets.

 

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Review: Eisley – I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past

I have an ever-growing list of favorite bands. In 2011, I found a group from Texas called Eisley and they quickly became the newest addition. The Valley continues to be a spring staple for me, and I’ve often thought to myself that there’s an Eisley album for every season.

I greatly anticipated and thoroughly enjoyed 2017’s I’m Only Dreaming. When Sherri Dupree-Bemis announced the re-release in May I was equally excited. I’m used to long waits for new albums, so the fact that there have been two Eisley releases in two years makes me happy.

You can buy I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past on Apple Music.

I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past is what the band themselves have dubbed “a collection of acoustic and re-depicted versions” of I’m Only Dreaming. The catch is that it’s only Sherri and Garron Dupree. Somehow, though, missing the rest of the band, the two family members have managed to create an even more ethereal rendition of what was already (like most of their past albums) an album straight from a fairytale.

While I’m not really sure what originally drew me to Eisley, their storybook atmosphere is what keeps me listening. Sherri’s vocals, combined with the synth they’ve adopted, create a beautiful soundscape that’s meant to be rested in. Where I’m Only Dreaming is effortless, I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past brings “effortless” to a new level. The barely-there pianos and softened harmonies are blended perfectly.

Let’s get into some specific tracks. Like the original album, I don’t really have a favorite song on this release. I was partial to “You Are Mine” (more on that track later) when it was released as a single, and the rest of the album didn’t disappoint. Eisley has mastered the less is more approach, both sonically and logistically. Their albums are never too long or heavy from a thematic standpoint and that makes them a standard in my car’s CD player. Any of the tracks hit the spot for me at any given time.

The two tracks I was most anticipating were “Louder Than a Lion” and “You Are Mine.” These are two of the most dynamic tracks in the Eisley song bank, in my opinion, and I was excited to see whether they’d keep the changes going or whether they’d scale them back. The former track has been stripped down in the best way. They don’t lose the haunting atmosphere, and, quite honestly, slowing it down and focusing on the vocal level has actually upped the eerie feeling I got from both the track when it was first released.

“You Are Mine” is right after “Louder Than a Lion” track-listing-wise. I also appreciated the paring down of this song, though not quite as much. I don’t want to say that I was disappointed, because I had no idea what to expect, but for what is such an explosive song and perfect single, I think it’s very similar to other tracks on the album in almost an afterthought way.

Where “You Are Mine” fell a little short, “When You Fall” soars. They say that the things you talk about the most show your priorities. There’s no secret that Sherri and Max love their kids. This song about Sherri’s daughters is no different. The way she delivers the lyrics showcases the intense love and concern she has for her family and that’s what makes “When You Fall” a standout track.

The final track I want to highlight is “Brightest Fire”. This was an instant standout for me on the first iteration of the album, and the same could be said here. Sherri’s instrument of choice here is stacked harmonies, and as anyone who’s read one of my reviews knows, I’m a firm believer that any song can be improved by throwing some layered vocals into the mix. I simply can’t get enough of this song’s re-release.

As with the original recordings and variations of I’m Only Dreaming, I love this album. It puts the lyrical aspects of Eisley toward the forefront of the listener’s focus and I’m always a huge fan of that. Maybe this is being a little greedy, but I can’t wait to see how Eisley follows up this particularly special chapter in their history. It’s been a big era of change both personally and musically for the band, and I’m interested to see how they’ll channel that fact in releases to come.

4/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Anthony Green – Would You Still Be In Love

My first thought upon first listen to Anthony Green’s surprise solo album, Would You Still Be In Love, was, “How the hell can he be this prolific?!” In the last decade, Green has been the frontman for both Circa Survive and Saosin while releasing five solo records. Somehow, Would You Still Be In Love is as beautiful as it is terrifying. For each image beautifully painted of absolute love, there is a tear in the canvas showing the struggle with mental illness on the other side.

You can buy Would You Still Be In Love on Apple Music.

Green’s solo albums have always experimented with genre, but they have usually been at their best at the acoustic level. Aside from sparsely used percussion and a haunting violin, the majority of Would You Still Be In Love consists of gorgeously melodic acoustic tracks that make the lyrics much darker than they otherwise may have been. While Green pours over his struggles and things begin crashing down, you can hear the beauty of the world around him that he’s trying to reach.

As usual, Green’s lyrics are stunning. The album is a surprisingly dark one that uses stark imagery to show the struggles of mental illness in a relationship. Opener “Vera Lynn” is arguably the poppiest song Green has ever written. It also is a song about the fear of becoming musically irrelevant. It’s both a warning to himself and an understanding of his profession as he sings, “Someday if you hit the big one, everybody wants some from you / It won’t last / Cause then one day you’ll bite the big one / Everyone will move onto somebody new”.

“Love”, a cover from the song made famous in Disney’s Robin Hood animated movie, is a sweet homage to his family. It also sets the tone for how wonderful things can be before collapsing. “You’re So Dead Meat” is where the first doubts begin to pour in about his music. There are lines that show the struggle with art in ways I have never heard before, such as, “These strings are so dead / Holding off on changing them / until one day they will just break”, or “Why should I put everything into all these songs you just steal?”

“When I Come Home” is the showstopper of the record. It highlights the struggle of dealing with personal issues and watching against your own will as things appear to fall to pieces. The song weighs the pressure between true and failed love as Green sings, “Don’t blame me if I’m right / You were always on your way out / You can take your time, I’ll be patient / Don’t hate me if I say, ‘If there’s something I can change’ / You’d still be in love when I come home”.

Closer “Real Magic” manages to find solace with his struggles and ties off his fears. Coming to terms with his fears as a musician from earlier in the album, “Real Magic” justifies the struggles of writing such personal songs as he sings, “Everyday there’s something tragic that helps somebody else”.

Would You Still Be In Love sits amongst Anthony Green’s best solo albums. As tragic as it is redeeming, the record feels complete at nine songs long. Extremely personal, thematic and honest, Green shows yet again that he’s never left the top of his game.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and listened to this album at 6 am on a Saturday morning because sleeping in is for quitters.

 

Review: William Ryan Key – Thirteen

After the soaring choruses and melodic punk of nearly two decades in Yellowcard, it’s almost a shock to the system to hear William Ryan Key mellowed out. Some of the best Yellowcard songs were the often-overlooked acoustic ballads, and it can cause an undeserved sense of expectation when listening to Key’s new EP, Thirteen for the first time. Scaled back to its simplest form, Key’s work is dipped so far into a folk sound that it can be hard to recognize him. But the stories and pictures he paints are still some of the absolute best in music.

You can buy Thirteen on Apple Music.

Over the five songs on Thirteen, Key takes his time with simple melodies. “Old Friends” features a simple strum and spaced out notes that subtly pick up pace during the chorus. “Vultures” and “Form and Figure” are a bit faster paced, but still rely on a simple melody to carry the songs. Taking a note from Ace Enders, there is a synth line that haunts the background of several songs to give them an added sense of weight that emphasizes the guitar. It’s a soothing way to give the songs atmosphere and depth.

Additionally, Key’s vocals are scaled back significantly. Instead of pushing himself for a raging chorus, his voice is so quiet it can be almost monotonous. For someone who has such a wide range, songs like “Thirty Days” seem hampered because it sounds like he is trying too hard to hold himself back. It keeps the songs folky, but not without sounding at least partially forced.

However, the storytelling and themes are utterly incredible. “Old Friends” is a story about life on the road, and learning how to deal with your friends back home while dealing with the ambition of being in a rock band. “Went searching for the Hollywood sound and my old friends were cursing my name / I thought if I could burn out the sun, everyone would be with me in the shade / Wrong as I was, I wouldn’t change”.

“Form and Figure” deals with the aftermath of a failed relationship (“I stay in a sleepless state all the time / blurry lines / with the dawn about to light”). “Thirty Days” is a song that equally works as a love song and as a description of having found help after addiction. The somber tone of Key’s voice as he sings, “I’ve hung a heroes cape and worn a villain’s face / Is it my reflection on the wall? / Do I even look the same at all? / If you see me, I swear you won’t believe these years have worn on me” brims with both regret and hope in equal measure.

While it is a new direction for Key, Thirteen sounds like it has been written before. At 18-minutes long, these songs struggle to differentiate themselves from each other. After the flush and extravagant writing of Key’s vast body of work, Thirteen feels underdeveloped, even if that was the intention. However, it still points towards the next amazing step in his career.

3/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and frequently is criticized for his posture. Whip him with a wooden ruler upon sight, if you could be so kind.

Review: Dashboard Confessional – Crooked Shadows

After the release of Dusk and Summer 12 years ago, Dashboard Confessional had an identity crisis. They couldn’t seem to decide whether to commit to pop rock or strip back entirely to the acoustic sound that made Chris Carrabba famous. Alter the Ending attempted to quell this by releasing a version of each. In the nine years since that last album, Dashboard’s audience has grown up, and so has he.

You can buy Crooked Shadows on iTunes.

Crooked Shadows is the first Dashboard album since A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar that finds a solid footing between songwriting styles. Aggressively romantic, Carrabba found a way to embellish his writing to flow organically between rock, Lorde-esque pop and acoustic ballads. Crooked Shadows organically forges new ground as much as it sounds like a ‘best of’ collection.

It would be easy for the variety of style on Crooked Shadows to feel messy, but the album is extremely cohesive. An anthemic rock song like “We Fight” can sit beside the finger snaps and digital drums of “Belong” without sounding out of place. It is refreshing to hear each song try something new without retreading the footsteps of another song, or even past albums. That’s not to say that Crooked Shadows doesn’t sound like a Dashboard Confessional album. You can pick up the essence of every era of Dashboard’s history throughout the album if you’re listening.

The guitars of “We Fight” could be pulled from Dusk & Summer. Ending song, “Just What To Say” seems like it was left off of The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most. However, songs like “Belong” sound remarkably different from Dashboard’s past. Distinctly modern pop, it is driven by electronic drums, finger snaps, and Carrabba’s cracked vocals. It doesn’t sound out of place on the album, but it is a marked difference in songwriting.

This level of pop infusion follows through to “Crooked Shadows”. More traditional in nature, the pop elements mix with guitars to create a sound that is uniquely what a Dashboard Confessional song in 2018 should sound like. It is the line between today’s radio pop and Carrabba’s MTV rock anthems.

Carrabba’s voice has always been one of his most powerful instruments, and is in full force yet again. Older and matured, he returns with the slight gravel of age, giving his deeper songs an impact that an 18 year old could never muster (“We Fight”). Alternatively, his crisp high notes are just as powerful as ever (“About Us”), and the signature emo crooning seems ageless (“Just What To Say”).

Crooked Shadows is a record brimming with love songs and the will to forge ahead. “We Fight” is a song of encouragement for anyone scared to dive forward into their dreams. “Heart Beat Here” is Carrabba’s most romantic song since “Hands Down”. Backed by only an acoustic guitar, he sings to his wife, “I wear my ring to know what’s at stake / And when the days work at their own pace, you remain my time and place”.

“Open My Eyes” finds the doubt creeping in. However, the song still finds a way to push back and look for hope, even as Chris sings, “I would stare at myself in the mirror if I thought I had any answers / Hell, finding my way just by failure / Oh, so far, we can see clear”.

Crooked Shadows is a brilliant return to form for Dashboard Confessional after taking nearly a decade between albums. At only nine songs long, it takes its time with a confidence that the last two albums lacked. Whichever era of Dashboard you prefer, there is a song for you, and a few that will feel entirely new. It’s hard to say whether Crooked Shadows will be anyone’s favorite album from the band, but it is sure to be remembered for as one of their most unique.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and listened to Crooked Shadows while wading through a foot of snow to the train. Yaaaaaay, February!

Review: Emery – Revival: Emery Classics Reimagined

What does someone write about an album of old songs? A lot, apparently, when it’s as rich of an experience as is the case of Emery’s latest offering, Revival: Emery Classics Reimagined.

You can buy Revival: Emery Classics Reimagined on iTunes.

Oftentimes, when a band re-releases old songs, whether it be an acoustic version or a remix, I’m not a huge fan. I generally enjoy the original recording more because I like an organic representation of the artist’s interpretation and intent when writing and composing. I’ve changed my opinion in recent years, because everyone looks back on past work and wonders what they could’ve done differently. With Emery’s Revival, the band captures that thought process perfectly.

Each track has been carefully re-crafted and entirely thought through. Originally an EP of three songs given as a gift to Kickstarter backers, they apparently enjoyed the process so much that they turned it into virtually another full-length. I’ve been listening to Emery for a long time and when I listened to Revival, it didn’t sound like the Emery I knew. Therefore, it wasn’t surprising when I did a bit more research and learned that the members of Emery weren’t overly involved with the production and planning. Their touring guitarist, Chris Keene was more involved with the composition side of things and really made a change sonically.

One of the things I especially enjoyed was the lack of harsh vocals. I may just be getting old, but I don’t have as much patience for lyrics I can’t understand. I was excited to really be able to hear and pick apart some of the lyrics that I missed in the original versions of the tracks. There’s something special about listening to lyrics rather than reading them from a random site that you’ve Googled. It provides a more personal approach and connection to the artist and their artistic intention.

The composition of all of Emery’s music is something to be severely impressed with. The members of the band have such an incredible set of skills when it comes to production, songwriting and musicianship. This album was no different. Each track has new elements and interesting facets, and it’s a joy to listen to. Toby Morrell and Devin Shelton are vocal masterminds. Their harmonies are honestly unmatched and I can only chalk that up to the longevity of the band and how well they’ve worked together over the past years.

Favorite tracks for me were generally the ones I’m most familiar with from other albums, the top track for sure being, “The Smile, The Face”. Even though that doesn’t rate as one of their heavier tracks, I loved the way that they managed to soften it up even more. The only complaint I have is the lack of tracks from their 2011 album We Do What We Want. That album, along with their last release, 2015’s You Were Never Alone, is my favorite album and I was a bit disappointed to see that they ignored it. I would’ve especially loved to hear a new version of “Scissors”.

Emery never fails to excite me with any release announcement. Regardless of the familiarity and age of these songs, Emery has managed to completely revamp their sound once again. Based on what they’ve accomplished with this collection, I am eagerly awaiting another full album and look forward to what they’ll do next.

4/5

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Review: Jake Bugg – Hearts That Strain

Jake Bugg frustrates me as a songwriter. His debut, Jake Bugg was a slow burn that quietly became one of my favorite records when it debuted a few years ago. Each subsequent record has been vastly different than the last, to mixed results. But one thing I am fully aware of is that at 23 years old, Jake Bugg is a force of nature that will be here for a long time.

You can buy Hearts That Strain on iTunes.

Hearts That Strain, Bugg’s fourth full length, follows suit with his previous works in that it is completely different from anything else he has put out. While his debut, an acoustic tribute to Oasis and Shangri La, was a grunge punk album, Hearts That Strain is a classic country tinged album that seems to channel John Denver in all the best ways.

What sets Bugg apart as a songwriter is how vastly different his work is, especially for someone whose debut album was released four years ago. While I initially fell in love with his ‘don’t give a shit’ acoustic songs that oozed with personality, on Hearts That Strain, Bugg blends a dreamlike homage to outlaw country with influence from the Gallagher brothers.

Hearts That Strain is Bugg’s most cohesive album to date. It doesn’t sound nearly as slap-dash as some of his earlier work, and is far more fleshed out than earlier records. However, the lyricism is more vague and doesn’t seem to have the same storytelling aspects of his classic, “Broken”.

Though his songwriting has always had a hint of bluesy southern rock to it, it is absolutely astonishing that Bugg is able to take a genre like classic country and make it his own to the point that it sounds in-line with his older works. The steel guitar, piano and the angelic backing vocals sound like more of a tribute to George Jones and Conway Twitty than most modern country acts can muster.  I would say that is an impressive feat for a kid from England.

“In The Event of My Demise” seems to channel the rhythm of The Mamas and the Papas’ “California Dreamin’” amidst a Johnny Cash-esque guitar line. “Waiting” is a perfect duet with Noah Cyrus, amidst romantic guitar strums, playful piano and violin, and a killer saxophone solo.

While the lyrics don’t give the straight pictures I would have hoped for, they are dreamlike enough that it allows you to paint your own image and setting given the music. A good example is “The Man on Stage”, which finds Bugg singing about a broken lover with the lines, “He took your heart with his heart / And then he led the man on stage / Is not the same man you’ve met / To the next town up ahead”. The piano and scorned violin convey a devastating heartbreak, even though Bugg hasn’t really said anything himself. It’s as infuriating as it is brilliantly catchy.

The only downside to the album is given how much energy Bugg has, it is a shame that every song has the same mellow energy. He doesn’t push himself in ways I had hoped at the start of each song. Instead, he found a groove and a sound for this album and stuck to it. But the depth of musicianship and number of instruments help make up for it.

Jake Bugg is an incredibly talented songwriter. The fact that he’s so young and has mastered so many different genres but still manages a cohesive discography is the feat of a genius. While I can’t claim that Hearts That Strain is Bugg’s best work, it is inspired. It harkens to the classic sound of country music in a way that modern country artists can’t touch. Considering that Hearts That Strain came just over a year after his last record, it makes this album all the more impressive.

3.5/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and has almost finished watching How I Met Your Mother for the first time. He just learned what the ducky tie is.

Julien Baker Releases Music Video for “Turn Out the Lights”

Just a mere two weeks away from her highly anticipated sophomore record Turn Out the Lights, Julien Baker has released a new music video for the album’s title track. “Turn Out the Lights” features a slow build toward its emotional, swirling ending, much like the album’s first single, “Appointments”.

Only 21 years old, Baker has quickly become masterful at emotive depictions of depression, loneliness and a search for hope. On her latest track, she searches for the courage to battle her demons alone, crying out, “When I turn out the lights / There’s no one left between myself and me”. Take a look at the video below:

All of the feels, right? You can preorder Turn Out the Lights at Matador Records’ online store. Are you excited for the new album? Share in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Pierce the Veil Release “Today I Saw the Whole World EP”

Pierce the Veil have released a short EP featuring their latest single, “Today I Saw the Whole World” along with an acoustic rendition of the song. “Today I Saw the Whole World” was included on last year’s album Misadventures and is one of the heavier tracks the band have penned (and arguably the best song on the album).

Thus, it’s exciting to hear an acoustic version of the track, which features a delicate acoustic guitar and scaled back vocals from Vic Fuentes. Whereas the original version finds venom in Fuentes’ words, this new acoustic rendition displays a broken soul. Vic’s opening lines of, “Baby, pour over / Tell me are we concrete? / What would you do without my perfect company to your undressed spine?” feel desperate instead of determined.

The best acoustic tracks tend to dig into new emotions that full band versions can’t completely capture, and “Today I Saw the Whole World” certainly excels. Take a listen below:

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: The Wonder Years – Burst & Decay

For many people, myself included, it is hard to buck the idea that The Wonder Years are a positive band. After the release of The Upsides, there is always that part of me that will juxtapose anything they release with the immortal line of “I’m not sad anymore”. Even as the band has matured and their music drifted away from youthful optimism, I still see them as one of the most earnest bands out there. But their songs always felt grounded in the stories each album told. Burst & Decay, the band’s new acoustic EP, is an exercise in reinvigorating their material so much so that it’s hard not to see those same optimistic boys that set the scene aflame with positivity.

You can buy Burst & Decay on iTunes.

Burst & Decay is a delicate interpretation of songs throughout their catalog. Tempo changes, keyboards, and crooning vocals are the most prominent changes from the original punk rock. However, that is enough to revamp these songs entirely into their own message. The softer songs build to crescendos that the original songs lacked. When vocalist Dan Campbell shifts from a croon to all-out shouts, the message carries stronger and more prominently than the original songs were able to.

“There, There”, which reflects on one’s own faults, becomes a slow-built song of defiance. “Cardinals”, a song of regret over letting down a friend, becomes a moment of somber reflection and a loving war cry.

It’s not as though these songs are fundamentally different by any means. The melodic violin, soft drumming and acoustic strums of “Cardinals” sits alongside Dan Campbell’s whispery vocals in perfect meditation. There is a build throughout so that in the final verse, when Campbell explodes and shouts the lyrics, it fundamentally seems to change the tone of the original song. Instead of pleading for a chance to prove himself, Campbell is swearing an oath to the gods.

“Don’t Let Me Cave In”, a cornerstone track of Suburbia, I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing, may be the most dramatically changed. In lieu of the raging guitars, the song is a ballad focusing on dreamlike keyboard melodies with minimalistic guitars. Originally, this song was frantic and desperate. Campbell seemed to search for an excuse for being in such hysterics. He pleaded for help. This softer version finds him saying the same words, but determination is behind him. He’s aware of his problems and thankful to have someone there to help see him through his demons.

Not every song takes a different tone to its predecessor. “Dismantling Summer” is arguably the most direct conversion to acoustics. “Coffee Eyes” is still an absolute jam. The drums rattle away and the guitars are crisp and hypnotic. Slightly more isolated, Campbell’s cracking voice as he shouts, “There’s always been a table for me there”, sounds so much better than it did on the original recording.

“You In January”, one of No Closer To Heaven’s stand-out tracks, tops off the EP. The light violin and plinking piano provide the romantic backing a song like this always asked for. It’s also in this song that the record’s title, Burst & Decay become prominent as Campbell sings to his love. “You In January” is the thesis of the album in a roundabout way. Where many of these songs centered on the idea of cracking slowly and trying to stop the damage, these versions have managed that task.

Burst & Decay is one of the few acoustic albums that make a true difference in a band’s sound. Much like The Starting Line’s Make Yourself At Home, this record is short, crisp and fundamentally different than the core sound of the band. Though it doesn’t carry the same weight or theme of a proper album, Burst & Decay does enough to differentiate itself from anything else The Wonder Years have done.

My one hope for this album was that perhaps the songs would be reimagined lyrically, much in the same way that “Logan Circle” and “Logan Circle: A New Hope” were. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case with Burst & Decay. But finding a new meaning and tone to the existing lyrics may be something more profound.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and is probably playing euchre right now. Why? No reason other than he is a pretty cool cat. Myaaah!