Review Summary: Accessible Pop Rock driven by strong piano sound. Although not paticularly offensive it fails to excite on this seven track mini LP.1 of 1 thought this review was well written
Pop punk is at times akin to a balancing act. Any would be pop punk megastars must attempt to both write extremely catchy songs laden with pop hooks but at the same time retain some element of artist credibility lest they be labelled as despicable sell outs. Some bands manage this balance perfectly of course. Take Alkaline Trio
they have a huge fan base of loyal fans whilst making extremely accessible punk rock but never really offending anyone in the process. On the other extreme we have Good Charlotte
, hated by all but their pre-teen fan base yet their music whilst significantly difference is not a million miles apart from The Alkaline Trio
. How does this affect Waking Ashland
? Well they seem to have taken upon themselves to ignore half of the scale entirely, there music wouldn’t offend your grandma, it feels accessible, it’s not overly catchy but it’s just unforgivably boring and uneventful. It’s like having a sandwich for dinner. It’s not that bad and it might even be pretty good but it’s just so damn dull that you certainly won’t be remembering anything about that sandwich the next day. Another problem is that they really don’t seem to add anything new to the piano rock scene. The band is pretty much a carbon copy of Something Corporate
. On occasions being a clone of another band is not that bad and serves two purposes; A) For casual fans it provides great music in the vein of the original band, or B) It serves as an outlet for the pent up rage of the hardcore fan. A good example being Trivium
, whom the casual metal fan may find some redeeming feature in, although whatever that may be escapes me, but anyone serious about their metal will hate the band passionately.
However this album is about as far away from metal as a band could possibly be, and seen as pop punk is built on plagiarism it’s only fair to give Waking Ashland
a chance. Its not easy to fault their piano pop rock but their songwriting is not what it could be and a lack of maturity is very apparent. Where as Something Corporate
have great pop hooks, introspective lyrics and countless other qualities Waking Ashland
don’t really have anything about them that’s sets them apart. Strangely the opener to this seven track mini album is one the worst and most uninventive songs here. Julian
has a nice little piano intro I guess before it is blasted by some thundering power chords, the verse has its moments but the lyrics get to me somewhat. They are such a cliché for this genre, “Why are you running? You’re always running is it me you don’t see? Why are you crying? You’re always crying to me,”
they are just so overdone. I always feel that the lyrical content of a band is an integral part of their makeup; thus Waking Ashland
and I are going to struggle to get along. Things do improve however with both Telescopes
and Tortoise and the Hare
, which are less straight forward and show a far more intricate style of songwriting. Telescopes
starts as another piano based song but ends up been driven by guitars where as Tortoise and the Hare
is a slow off kilter slice of piano rock. In fact it’s actually a really strong poppy number. The vocal melody is quite strange, particularly the verse and it suits his voice well. The voice in question being similar to yep you guessed it Andrew McMahon of Something Corporate
only ever so slightly lower in pitch and far less interesting. The album continues in a similar vein with Under The Gun
having a faster edge to it, it’s driven predominantly by a repetitive drum beat which after four and a half minutes transforms from a positive change to an irritating liability.
I kind of feel I’ve been overly harsh on Waking Ashland
because in truth this is a perfectly acceptable record, yes it treads little new ground but neither does most of the pop punk I love. On the other hand what positives are there to draw from this album? Well I guess you could say they make accessible pop rock which is reasonably well written and isn’t without its simple charm. Lyrically it could be worse but it could be an awful lot better. There is a lot of promise in this band and I think on their next LP, due some time late this year, they may well step things up a level and achieve something spectacular. For now however the pop punk school report reads could do better.
Tortoise and the Hare