The Maine, Forever Halloween

The Maine, <em>Forever Halloween</em>

Don’t be fooled by The Maine’s collective youthful demeanor, the obligatory hipster-kid haircuts, or the fact that they got their start on pop-punk label Fearless Records — this band isn’t yet another pop-punk-y post-emo gang of kids who grew up wanting to be Blink-182 or Sunday’s Best. They’re something wholly, completely different, and that’s a very good thing.

See, on Forever Halloween, this Tempe, Arizona-bred quintet comes off like a band 10 (hell, 20) years their senior. The album sounds amazingly mature, the product of a far older, more seasoned, road-weary outfit. Granted, some of that could be attributed to star producer Brendan Benson, but I think it’s more than that; despite their young age, they sound like a band that was raised on some of the same music I grew up listening to.

There’s a resemblance to oft-overlooked band Blackpool Lights, to my ears, particularly in frontman John O’Callaghan’s rough-edged vocals and those awesomely rootsy, just-distorted-enough guitars, but there’s a far greater resemblance to The Replacements.

That’s especially true on opener “Take What You Can Carry,” an insanely catchy rave-up of a song that marries those Son Volt guitars with some more contemporary alt-rock production touches, but there’s plenty of it elsewhere, too, like on the quietly bitter “Birthday in Los Angeles” or self-examining rocker “Fucked up Kids.” Heresy though it might be, I would submit that these are songs that truly wouldn’t sound out-of-place coming from Pleased to Meet Me-era Paul Westerberg.

The Maine even offers up a shoutout to jangle-pop band Counting Crows on the also-ridiculously-catchy “Love & Drugs,” and yeah, it makes sense when you listen close, because there’s something of that same late-’90s sound to the band’s music. On top of that, some of the songs are pure power-pop, like the candy-sweet Beatles blast that is (ironically) “Sad Songs,” or the earnest and pleading “White Walls.” I hear those tracks and can’t help but think of bands like Moods for Moderns or Big Star. On a slightly different tangent, too, there’s “Happy,” which is snarling and bleak and Blue Album-era Weezer, all the way.

At its core, the band sounds like the absolute best kind of straight-up bar band: the kind who’s most at home on a small, intimate stage, where they’ll bleed and howl and explode and pour their soul out right there in front of you. And your jaw will drop and stay there as you wonder how you’ve never heard ’em before.

[The Maine is playing 7/19/13 at Fitzgerald’s, along with A Rocket To The Moon, This Century, & Brighten.]
(Big Picnic Records --; The Maine --; The Maine (Facebook) --; The Maine (Twitter) --
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Friday, July 19th, 2013. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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