Most Anticipated of 2016: #7 Say Anything Get Weird (Again)

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In Defense of the Genre

There are few bands who truly take the term “reinvention” to heart the way that Say Anything’s Max Bemis does. With an extremely loyal fanbase still hypnotized by …Is a Real Boy, Say Anything inspires a unique sound every record, even going so far as to remove all of his signature guitar work and replace it with synth and orchestral instruments on the fantastic Hebrews. It’s difficult to predict what type of album will be next, but it’s guaranteed to force the fans to argue where it ranks amongst the rest of them for the next year.

The other reason to be excited is that Max Bemis is extremely, and unapologetically honest in his songwriting. The lyrics are bittersweet and hopeful at best and horrifically brutal at worst. His storytelling is enchanting and finds themes that other bands skim the edges of, if not avoid altogether. Although Bemis has been much more positive for the last several years, it hasn’t impacted his ability to write engaging lyrics that hold the listener’s attention just as much as guitar solos.

Bemis is one of the most prolific writers in the scene, and has been since he caught the nation’s attention over a decade ago, and personifies the phrase “unafraid to experiment.” Each album feels fresh and tends to provide an update to past releases, making the entire discography relevant again.

If nothing else, the chance to read interviews with Max Bemis as he explains the new album, attempts to explain what it sounds like, and describes his mindset with it are almost as entertaining as the album itself.

BONUS:
There have been rumors for a long time that Two Tongues, the side project for members of Say Anything and Saves the Day (Yay Chris Conley!) would be releasing an album in 2015, spurred by a tweet from Max Bemis early last year. Unfortunately, Two Tongues didn’t materialize last year, but if work was underway on a new album, it may be the first new release from the band since 2009. Until concrete details are released, it’s not a good time to get one’s hopes up, but at least there is a good possibility that it will come sometime in the near future.

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 takes any chance to have a conversation about Max Bemis and Say Anything at every opportunity.

Say Anything stream new music video for “Six Six Six”

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Say Anything recently released their acclaimed new album Hebrews on June 10 via Equal Vision Records. A music video for the album’s first single, “Six Six Six” is now available. The video, directed by Rylan Morris Scherer, can be viewed below:

If you haven’t purchased Hebrews yet, you really should. You can download the album on iTunes.

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: Say Anything – Hebrews

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Max Bemis has always been one of my guitar gods. The frantic solos and crushing melodies were what initially drew me into the band in the first place. When I heard that the band’s newest album, Hebrews, was made without any guitars, it left me with a single reaction: “WAT.”

Bemis has always been known for his eccentric tendencies and often quirky song writing, but there was something so off-putting about a rock band opting for a plethora of keyboards and orchestral instruments. To be completely honest, I was turned off to the idea and ultimately wasn’t excited for the album at all. What I didn’t expect was for Hebrews to be the album that Say Anything fans have been wanting since In Defense of the Genre, if not …Is A Real Boy.

What it lacks in the comfort of guitar rock, it more than makes up for in the intensity and storytelling of classic Say Anything song writing. For an album that sounds similar to a Ben Folds/Hellogoodbye hybrid, it’s easily one of Bemis’ best works, if not the album that is ultimately able to equal Is a Real Boy. It’s adventurous, intimate and cleverly orchestrated chaos. There are so many layers to these songs – each one demands multiple listens just to catch everything being thrown out there. Ironically, this is also the hardest record since IDotG.

While keyboards act as the primary instrument of the record (dueling with Bemis’ voice for lead), they never feel overdone or in the way. Bemis essentially destroys the instrument, banging viciously before gently pumping out a circus-styled melody and gentle sound. Constant synth is used in the background for added layering throughout several songs, similar to Hellogoodbye.

The real surprise is how effective the use of unconventional instrumentation affects the songs. The orchestration is subtle, but extraordinarily efficient. The faint grump of a tuba adds just the right layer of bass to supplement. Or a song like “Boyd”, easily the hardest and fastest song on the album, that uses a fiddle and violin where hardcore punk guitar chords would have normally been. In essence, the hardcore punk melody is there, but with a completely unique sound unlike most anything else I’ve ever heard.

Garron DuPree’s bass melodies are among the best of Say Anything’s discography. He’s a relentless musician and more than capable to stand toe-to-toe with Bemis’ nightmarishly demanding writing. It’s almost alarming how entrancing his bass lines are when they manage to crash into the forefront of the song. Where the keys take over normal guitar parts, DuPree’s bass keep the songs on course and give the punk edge expected of Say Anything. New recording drummer Reed Murray is able to match the quality that we all grew to love from Coby Linder with sleek precision and hard beats.

Arguably the most prominent instrument is Bemis himself, providing the best vocal performance since IDotG. His vocal range races from one end of the scale to the other, from gentle crooning (“Lost My Touch”) to guttural punk screams and growls (“Boyd”). The guest vocals for each song are very similar to IDotG, as each guest adds small segments to the songs, either just hidden in the background (Chris Conley in “John McClane”) or complete take over (Jeremy Bolm and Christie Dupree in “Lost My Touch”). For an album that features guest vocals on literally every song, each instance feels necessary and special.

Lyrically, this is the most intimate Bemis has been since Is a Real Boy, which is part of the magic that gave his initial songs so much gravity. They’re deeply personal, self-deprecating and funny. In many ways, Hebrews feels like the sequel to Is a Real Boy that we always wanted, as well as a continuation to the “story” concept from that album as well.

“Judas Decapitation” is more of a sequel to fan favorite “Admit It!!!” than “Admit It Again” was, as Bemis tears away at himself through the eyes of his own fans and their apparent waning support of his recent albums. He sings “I hate that dude now that he’s married / He’s got a baby on the way, poor Sherri…So he’s convinced it’s a manic delusion to know true love / Be 19 with a joint in hand, never change the band”.

In “Lost My Touch”, Bemis croons “Some say I’ve lost my touch at crafting Say Anything songs / I suppose I’ll let you take my place on stage; it’s not a difficult job to supplant, young one”, biting himself against the complaints of fans.

However, as hateful as he can be towards himself, Bemis still harbors the uniquely dark lyrics we expect from him in songs like “Six Six Six,” where he sings “I belong in jail but I lied my way to heaven with a wife who hasn’t learned that I’m Satan yet”, before breaking out into the chorus amid sweeping keyboards.

Hebrews isn’t just the new Say Anything album; it’s the quintessential Say Anything album, comparable to Is a Real Boy in how unique and important it is to the discography of this band. Each song is adventurously elaborate and surprising in how it makes up for the lack of rock’s primary instrument.

Bemis lifted any restrictions he’d had lyrically, rampaging through themes of inward reflection, family, the views of his own fan base and religion. For any band other than Say Anything, this would best be a side project. However, Hebrews is easily one of the best albums of the year, and hands down one of Max Bemis’ best works.

4.5/5

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 yells at the rain on occasion. He also wants to play you in FIFA.

Stream new Say Anything album “Hebrews”

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Start your day off right by streaming the new Say Anything album Hebrews on Spotify! The band’s new album is streaming a week early and officially releases next Tuesday, June 10, on Equal Vision Records. The album features a ton of great guest appearances and absolutely no guitars. Check it out below:

You can preorder Hebrews on iTunes.

What is your favorite song on the album? Let us know in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Say Anything to release “Hebrews” on June 10

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It’s official – Say Anything will be releasing their new album Hebrews on June 10 through Equal Vision Records. The album will be the band’s fifth full length release and a follow up to 2012’s Anarchy, My Dear.

In conjunction with the announcement, the band is also headed out on tour with The Front Bottoms, The So So Glos and You Blew It! this summer. Preorders for tickets will happen soon here and check out tour dates below:

Tour Dates
Jun 13 Dallas, TX @ Granada Theater
Jun 14 Austin, TX @ Emo’s
Jun 15 Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
Jun 17 Ft. Lauderdale, FL @ Revolution
Jun 18 Tampa, FL @ Ritz Ybor
Jun 19 Orlando, FL @ Beacham Theater
Jun 20 Atlanta, GA @ Masquerade
Jun 21 Charlotte, NC @ Amos Southend
Jun 22 Carrboro, NC @ Cat’s Cradle
Jun 24 Norfolk, VA @ The NorVa
Jun 25 Baltimore, MD @ Rams Head Live
Jun 26 Philadelphia, PA @ Electric Factory
Jun 27 Sayreville, NJ @ Starland Ballroom
Jun 28 New York, NY @ Best Buy Theatre
Jun 29 Boston, MA @ House of Blues
Jul 01 New Haven, CT @ Toad’s Place
Jul 02 Clifton Park, NY @ Upstate Concert Hall
Jul 03 Syracuse, NY @ Lost Horizon
Jul 05 Toronto, ON @ Opera House
Jul 06 Millvale, PA @ Mr Smalls Theatre
Jul 08 Lansing, MI @ Common Ground Fest
Jul 09 Columbus, OH @ Newport Music Hall
Jul 10 Columbia, MO @ The Blue Note
Jul 11 Chicago, IL @ Concord Music Hall
Jul 12 Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave
Jul 13 Minneapolis, MN @ Varsity Theater
Jul 15 Lincoln, NE @ Bourbon Theatre
Jul 16 Denver, CO @ Summit Music Hall
Jul 17 Salt Lake City, UT @ Club Sound
Jul 19 Seattle, WA @ Showbox at The Market
Jul 20 Portland, OR @ Crystal Ballroom
Jul 22 San Francisco, CA @ Regency Ballroom
Jul 24 Los Angeles, CA @ The Fonda Theatre
Jul 25 Pomona, CA @ Glass House
Jul 26 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
Jul 27 Tempe, AZ @ The Marquee

Posted by Kiel Hauck