Review Summary: Cookie-cutter pop-punk that fails on pretty much every level.
The young always have the same problem - how to rebel and conform at the same time. They have now solved this by defying their parents and copying one another. - Quentin Crisp
Every teenager is convinced of two things: that they have something relevant and important to say, and that they are different to everybody else they know. There are obviously instances in which these beliefs are justified, but for the most part they're a product of blissful naivety and the education system. There's nothing inherently wrong with this; society carries on around them, their parents struggle through, and, perhaps most notably, every 'tormented' teenager has dozens of friends under exactly the same illusion. Unfortunately, the combination of egotism and innocence that accompanies such a state of mind is also capable of giving rise to the delusion that other people want to hear about it. And they don't.
Actually, that's a lie; the fact that music like Count The Stars' Never Be Taken Alive exists is testament to the fact that there's an audience for it. Released on the ever-so-edgy Victory Records in 2003, they play music that's just about alternative enough to avoid mainstream radio, but still easily close enough to the cookie-cutter mediocrity of the world's most generic faux-emo pop-punk bands to appeal to an already-formed fanbase. In other words, if you could synthetically manufacture a hybrid of Bowling For Soup, old Drive-Thru Records bands and Mest, then proceed to remove almost all of the fun elements associated with those component parts, you'd find yourself with something resembling this record.
Power-chords and palm-muted guitars are the name of the game. So what, right? It's pop-punk. But every chord and lyric sounds recycled; First Time's instrumental backdrop is the same type of mind-numbing, over-used progression present in so many other songs from the genre, and Count The Stars don't even pretend to try and introduce anything new. The rhythm section is equally unoriginal, offering nothing in the way of a momentum change or adrenaline boost unless the idea is directly lifted from another band. It's shameless how little Never Be Taken Alive seems to care about its inclusion of these cliches. Just as an example, the album starts with that distant, half-muted chorus you've heard everywhere else. It's been a long time since that sounded original or quirky, but in its context here as the first thing you hear, it's excruciating.
On The Way Home's chorus gang-vocals are the same 'woah's you'd expect to find in an All Time Low or Sherwood song, but still don't manage to invoke anywhere close to the same response, and here's where the real major flaw with Never Be Taken Alive lies. Pop-punk is hardly a genre lauded for its originality. In fact, it's hard to recall where you've heard so many of these lines before, purely for that reason - they could come from anywhere. But Count The Stars don't even do it well. Their melodic sensibilities are weak to say the least, their structures and ideas don't just seem stale but also leave no impression, and the vocal delivery, while sounding like your typical scene frontman's, ranges from unspectacular to irritating. Never Be Taken Alive is a perfectly generic example of a band plagiarising a set of hackneyed songwriting techniques that will always appeal to adolescent pseudo-rebels, and not even getting that right.
The .5 is just because the production isn't the worst thing in the world and there are some passable hooks. Horrible album. Apologies in advance to Batman, although how you can think this is good is beyond me.
Did you just neg because you don't agree with me? Lol sigh.
Allister, Mest, Bowling For Soup, this is all lifted from bands in that area of the genre, nowhere nearly as good, and all of those bands had (arguably) their best records out before 2003. Not that I'm calling BFS good.
I just listened to a couple things from this on youtube, and I have to say, Adam's review seems pretty much spot on. Even for a record released in 2003 it's just way to contrived, cliched, and derivative to be enjoyable. Only other band I've heard that's able to cram more lyrical cliches into one song than these guys would be We The Kings.
i've been thinking, and i guess it would benefit everyone if instead of "was this review well written" we would have "was this review informative/useful".
i'm not saying this bercause of this particular review, but because of others which, while well written, constitute a rant or say very little about the album per se. you sometimes neg them for being rantsy, but the fact remains - THEY'RE WELL WRITTEN, gramatically and structurally. if we had the wording i suggest, you could neg them and you would actually be negging the content, rather than (apparently) the form.
case in point: my negging of Cleary21's Aiden review. it was well written, but i found it too rantsy, hence the neg
that said, good review, Strikey. pop punk can get so generic!
I urge anyone that don't know about this band to actually listen to this. Not youtube shit, I'm talking about forgetting this review, forget what I say about this and just listen. This review is unfair, hence my neg.
Yeah, Adam is a great writer, but this review is an aberration because as Return said, it isn't useful at all. It's well written, but it's wrong on every level. So sorry Adam, I hope we're fine on agreeing to disagree.
Never Be Taken Alive is Count The Stars debut album from Victory Records. A highly energetic and robust Albany foursome distinguish themselves as highly well established musicians alongside a very well crafted production by Dave Cobb. "Never Be Taken Alive" can really be considered one of the best albums out, as of yet, this year.
With great lyrics and vocals, Chris Kasarjian, principle songwriter, along with Adam Manning on back up vocals and lead guitar, creates a very principled album. The song, "All Good Things" clearly illustrate that from the very beginning with the acoustic guitar strumming away and the electric guitar lingering in the background. Chris Kasarjian's melodious voice often builds to a very triumphant crescendo. He needs to be applauded for this fastidious piece. On the ballad, "Pictures", you, once again, find yourself in awe of Chris Kasarjian., For the guitar enthusiast, the song "Understand" employs some very nice guitar effects. Mesh in David Shapiro's skillful drumming and you have standout material.
These men were really in the pocket all through the entire album. I must say that just about every song on this album is unbelievably good. Count the Stars really need to commended for this great album. I’m glad that in today’s music, bands like Count the Stars are taking their time in the studio to polish something worth waiting for.
Count the Stars were founded in New York in 1995, self-released several years later their
debut and surprisingly sold 5.000 copies worldwide. Victory Records paid attention to this energetic
four-piece and offered them a deal for their second and recent album Never Be Taken Alive. While
already listening to the opener Brand New Skin, you hear that this is a Victory band. They play a
marvellous kind of melodic pop slightly mixed with emo core parts. Parallels to Grade or Thursday
are inevitable, although Count The Stars prefer searching the melodic way (Better Off Alone, Taking
It All Back, My Best Mistake). I know that there are actually lots of melodic punk bands, especially
in the United States. I even can't tell you why you should choose the Count The Stars album and not
the CD released by another pop punk band. But a fact is that Count The Stars are playing a kind of
emo pop punk core which is a pleasure listening to. Only the last track All Good Things is more or
less acoustic and less exciting. However, fans of Jimmy Eat World or A New Found Glory may also
consider Count The Stars as a band worthy to discover.
The only lukewarm review I can find it's from Music Emissions, and even with that one, it still says
it's a good record. This is the first review that Adam writes that I disagree, and that's because
it's a rant, not a review.
I'm not a kid, this is the stuff I used to listen way back then. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I
honestly think it's one of the best pop punk records of the decade.
The question underneath the review says, "Was this review well-written?", not, "Do you agree?
You can say I'm biased all day long. It doesn't change the fact that I don't think it's well
written. Good writers can do some poorly written pieces, and that's the first poorly written review
I've seen of you. You aren't talking about the record, but ranting about "kids" (and I think you were
directing that to me) that enjoy this. I hate All Time Low and shitty pop punk acts as much as the
next guy, but this is a solid pop rock record. Like it or not.