One For The Kids
At first, I could almost dismiss Yellowcard's brand of pop-punk emoting and harmonizing, figuring hell, its not bad, but it's definitely nothing I haven't heard a dozen or two times before, and probably better, to boot. The second listen through, however, my foot started tapping, and I felt a pleasant warmth well up inside with the sweetly sung-howled chorus to "Big Apple Heartbreak." Three times around, and I suddenly began to really like singer/violinist Sean Mackins little string embellishments, especially on the driving anthem, "Sureshot" -- think Jimmy Eat World's faster moments with a tasteful violin thrown over the top, and you'll come close. The fourth time, the desperation of the emo-inflected "Trembling" really started to get to me, and my head began to bob uncontrollably. The fifth, and my coworkers started to give me weird looks. You get the idea.
It's true that One For The Kids isn't particularly groundbreaking, but that doesn't mean it's not an incredible piece of emo-pop majesty. It's well-done, addictive, and as sweet and hyper as a classful of toddlers on an unsupervised rampage through a candy store. The songs veer back and forth between heavier, more punk-edged stuff like "Star Struck" and "For Pete's Sake" and the jangly, melancholy pop of "Something of Value" and "Cigarette," all the while nicely maintaining the flow of the CD -- no disjointed punk-mixed-with-other-stuff splicings here. The vocals soar and swoop, never losing their youthful innocence or getting pretentious.
And the words? Okay, so the lyrics may not read like Bob Dylan, instead sticking close to well-worn subjects like love, growing up, heartache, and the rock star life, but they do the job fine, and that's the point -- epic poetry would be pretty much wasted on pop-punk, anyway. The words sound good, they're great to yell along to, and they're the perfect match to the crunching, roaring guitars. I don't have all of 'em memorized yet, I'll admit, but I have a feeling I will. (JH)
(Lobster Records -- P.O. Box 1473, Santa Barbara, CA. 93102; http://www.lobsterrecords.com/; Yellowcard -- http://www.yellowcardrock.com/)
Seduction. That's what Arthur Yoria's self-titled debut is all about; at least, that's my bet, after listening to the songs and pondering over the discarded-bathrobe/panties-on-the-bathroom-floor sleeve photos. Okay, well, maybe it's not all about seduction, per se, but the CD is definitely about relationships of the destructive kind, and Yoria isn't making it much of a secret. Starting right at the beginning with "Of the Lovely," he charges in with a bitterly angry resolution not to fall for the person who just hurt him, and then turns the tables with "Just Like You," trying to mend things after a fight.
"Strange Grin" peers inside the mind of a "Platonic friend" who's plotting to be more, gaining the object of his affections trust by being a sensitive listener -- it's not an uncommon ploy, admittedly, but it's made a bit sinister here when the narrator mentions the "leverage" his position gives him. "Several Mistakes in a Row" takes a different angle, this time wanting to "repeat history" with an ex, just for a night, but the tone is the same.
Actually, throughout this four-song EP, Yoria brings to mind fellow popster David Garza, and it's mostly because of that tone, the one that that quavering, delicate, multitracked voice evokes (although there's also a similar penchant for little electronic touches in his songs, to boot). Maybe it's an easy comparison, but it's one that sprang to mind the first time I put the disc in the CD player, and it's stuck with me. Being compared to David Garza's not a bad thing, mind you (for my money, his last album was just about brilliant), and it's certainly not the end of the story. There's a bit of Elvis Costello here and there, especially in the sardonic lyrics of "Strange Grin," a little Michael Penn in the delivery, and even some My Bloody Valentine-inspired effects-heavy guitar, the big, swirling mass that slams in at the start of "Of the Lovely."
Overall, this is one very impressive EP; I'm very curious to see what Yoria's got up his sleeve after this (he'd already released stuff over the last six years or so with The Jeepneys and Lavendula before heading out under his own name). What can I say? I'm a sucker for intelligent, lovestruck lyrics, beautiful rock-out guitars and gorgeous pop melodies, and this CD definitely fits the bill. (JH)
(K Oso Records)