Caroline's Spine is one of the bands that really got me into Rock music. I have always loved music, its just that most of it was horrible. But around 6th or 7th grade I heard the song "Sullivan" on the radio and it changed my outlook on music forever. Gone were my days of listening to Top 40 music and being oblivious to the beautiful music that was out there. Now this is not to say I didn't go through my nu-metal stage, Hah. But thats a different story.
Monsoon is a beautiful album, through and through. From the Hard Rocking tracks like "Say it to You" and "Necro" to the softer ballads like "Unglued" and "Sweet 'n' Sour". There isn't a bad note on here. You can tell that they're good musicians, but they don't drill it into your head with blazing guitar solo's, constant drum fills, and insane bass work. What they do is write great, catchy and sometimes rather edgy rock songs that make you move, sing along and all that good stuff. Jimmy's lyrics are very interesting and never get boring. The sound production on this disc is solid and everything sounds just like it should.
Track by Track
1. King for a Day (5/5)
This is a great opener, as it shows you what you're in for on this record. Its an upbeat rocker with some cool drumming and a very catchy chorus.
"'Cause all I want is an Ice cream cone
A convertible car
And a country home in the hills
And you know why
The things the way they are
They make me sit right here and cry"
Sounds kind of whiny on paper, but its not on record.
The bridge is darker, moodier and slows it down a tad with a lot of palm muting before kicking into some accented beats and some cool drum fills. The last verse seems to be uplifting, but the switch up in the last chorus shows otherwise. A great opener
2. You and Me (4/5)
This one starts off as tho it'll be a little less rock, with some nice plucking on an acoustic guitar and jimmy singing the chorus, some cool lyrics about an obviously bitter relationship. This continues through a verse and back into the chorus before a build up with some guitars growing in volume. The song rocks through two more sets of verse/chorus before going into a cool guitar solo with a wah. Nothing earth-shattering, but it rocks. Then back into the intro build up with the peppy yet dark main riff and then another chorus and the song ends about there. Very solid number.
3. Sullivan (5/5)
If you've a song by these guys on the radio, this is probably it. Its about the sullivan boys that were on a battleship (can't remember it for the life of me) in world war two that was sank and they all died. The lyrics are top notch, tellling the story of the boys. Starting with them as boys, going to them getting called up in the draft, to the letters to their mother, then in the acoustic interlude to the mother getting the telegram about the deaths. Very emotional build up into a very emotional final chorus. This song rocks the whole way through, with a slight break for the acoustic bridge. The references to the blue stars in the window (to represent a each family member in the war) and changing them to gold (to represent each death of a family member) are very touching and really climax the song in the end. Best song on the album.
4. Wallflower (3/5)
This one starts off acoustic as well, with some lyrics refering to loneliness. Thats what the songs about and the lyrics are pretty good. Its stays calm and with the acoustics through 2 sets of verse/chorus. Then the rock is brought on, cued by some feedback. A heavy, mid-tempo bridge follows with some lyrics about wasting time. Then a cool fill/solo wah thing bridges back into an acoustic outro. This outro verse is the best, but I can't quite place its meaning. The imagery is stellar tho. The song then closes a lot like it began. Pretty solid song.
5. Monsoon (3/5)
The title tracks starts off with some feedback and a couple distorted chords over acoustic plucking. I love the main riff of this song, its upbeat but still keeps an edge to it. The first verse is a lot like the intro, with singing over the plucked acoustic. The chorus of "I'll never drop the anchor, if you'll never stop the rain" is decent, but doesn't hold my intrest very well. The bridge is pretty sweet with some powerful guitar over the acoustic again, and some lyrics that don't entirely make sense to me. They go through one last verse that builds up into the last chorus which is much more powerful than the previous ones. It ends with that sweet main riff. All in all, a good song.
6. Unglued (2.5/5)
Ahhh, what modern rock cd would be complete without a love ballad, hah. This is probably the weakest moment on the cd, but its not bad by any means. It's just the Spine does much better when they're a little more energized. The pre-chorus riff is pretty cool, and i like the lead over the chorus. Jimmy's vocals are pretty powerful on this song. I think the thing that really gets me on this song is the effect they use on Jimmy's voice in the pre-chorus and bridge...it makes it sounds like his nose is plugged and he's singing into a megaphone...just doesn't do it for me. Not a bad song, I wouldn't reccommend it as an introduction to the band.
7. Trio Pain (3/5)
I think this song is about being away from your loved one while on tour, and losing the feeling while on the road. The lyrics are pretty good. This is one of the edgiest songs on the album and probably the heaviest, second to Necro maybe. The 2nd verse and chorus are the best moments on the song, as they're the most energetic. Good tune, but I need to be in the right mood to really enjoy it.
8. Psycho (5/5)
Here they kick it up a couple notches after a couple mid-tempo songs. This is probably their most "aggressive" song, in the fact that it never lets up. The second verse is one of the best moments on the cd, as its impossible to not rock out too. Everything about this song is catchy. Then in the bridge comes a very quality solo with a bit of a wah effect over it. Very nicely done. Then the bass line into the second part of the bridge...I love this bass line. Its really peppy and makes you feel like dancing. The lyrics on the bridge are great
"Salute me, greet me, so glad to meet me
Then you say I'm such a mess
Well sue me, chew me, beebopaloo me
Thanks so much...now go get dressed"
Good stuff, especially with the vocal meter and that damn bass line. I love it. Probably my favorite on the album. Great guitar lead at the very end to.
9. Necro (4/5)
Ahhh, the heaviest of the album. This one really puts me on a downer, especially with the lead over the main riff. It just sounds depressed. With references to Necrophelia and Hypochondria...this is the strangest track on the album. I'm not quite sure what to say about it. the end up the bridge up till the end of the song is the highlight as, again, it's most energetic. I really like the chorus. Good song
10. So Good Afternoon (3/5)
This one starts off with clean guitars and Jimmy singing. The lyrics are really good and catchy on this song and I find really enjoyable.
"So I'll go and tell my girlfriend I think she's ugly
We've had a couple kids and she's gettin' kinda pudgy
I'll tease her, please her, then I'm gonna leave her
And I'll go and find me a new girl, till she bugs me"
This one really grew on me, as I feel its a bit long for what it is. It just drags on a bit, mainly in the bridge. It picks up again for the end of the song, and the solo saves me from skipping it when I get the bridge. That and the last verse is sweet. Pretty good song, but 5:32 is a bit long for a straight forward mid-tempo rock song.
11. Say it to You (5/5)
Here we go, this is an energetic rocker. Starts off with a distorted riff that switches channels once through, then the whole band kicks in and it doesn't let up for the rest of the song. The verse lyrics are pretty good, especially the second. The bridge is the highlight of the song with some solid drumming and good lyrics
"Sick of Living my life in grey
Black or white, Love or spite
Give me the facts on what you're feeling
Well I try to be patient, but you're killing me"
And this jumps into a great guitar solo which transistions perfectly into the last chorus.
12. Sweet 'n' Sour (3/5)
This is another softer song, sort of in the vein of Wallflower. The lyric meter is good and keeps me interested. As without a good vocal meter, i might be turned off right away from this song. The chorus is rather bland for this song until the last one. There isn't much to say about this song really, its probably the most laid back and straight-forward on the album, but Jimmy's stellar lyrics pull it out of being just mediocre. It picks up for the bridge with Jimmy whispering "Strike" which is pretty cool. The end of the song repeats the bridge but with a little more "feeling". Pretty good song, but would have been better in the middle.
13. Hippie Boy (5/5)
Great closer for the album, this one might have been on the radio as well. Top notch lyrics on this one again. I do believe that this song is about "taking what you have and rolling with it" all while trying to not get too stressed out. I mean how stressed do hippies really get? I think it also might be written from Jimmy's fathers perspective. It's calm until the 3rd verse, which seems to be a bit of a trend for the album. When it does kick in, it rocks straight through til the end when it goes into one last quiet verse that brings a lot of closure to the album.
That was the long, now heres the short of it. This is just great straight-forward rock music. No gimics, just solid musicians doing their thing. Jimmy's lyrics are nothing short of awesome, the bass does its thing quite well, Jason's drumming is solid the whole way through while never really stealing the show. Its everything you could ask for from a rock drummer. And Mark is a great lead player, and bashes out a couple of memorable solos throughout the album. Nothing face-melting, but it will catch your attention and adds a lot to the songs. I had the pleasure of seeing these guys live a couple times before they broke up and they always put on a great show and are the most humble of people. I write this in hopes some of you will be able to appreciate them, as not nearly enough people know about these guys and they deserve the recognition. Rock On.
Caroline's Spine - Monsoon