Blue October
Any Man in America


3.5
great

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
August 22nd, 2011 | 91 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Blue October makes an eye opening progressive rock album, fusing everything from classic rock to hip-hop in what amounts to a refreshing change of pace for the band after six studio albums.

Blue October’s music always leaned towards the risk-taking side, with influences dipping into every genre from metal/hard rock to pop and R&B. There were never any rigid boundaries with their creative direction, and even though they may have made a few enemies with the overwhelmingly accessible albums Foiled and Approaching Normal, they still for the most part have a dedicated following that supports them one hundred percent. Perhaps that support was the catalyst behind the band’s wild departure from the norm, as their latest LP ventures even further into the pop/R&B side of their sound. I mean hell, there are sections on here comprised of straight up rap – think Rivers Cuomo on Weezer’s Red Album, though…not real rap. Anyhow, with this rock outfit’s latest, Genesis quality power ballads are bestowed upon us, followed up by foot-tap inducing electro-pop. We are given growling rockers, heart-on-your-sleeve ballads, pop-rock, and boy bands. There is no shortage of entertainment as Blue October intentionally makes an even larger stride into the mainstream spotlight, and despite the wholesale changes, they make nary a misstep while retaining their wholly recognizable sound. In other words, this is selling out at its best.

Remember songs like ‘Hate Me’ and ‘18th Floor Balcony’, which exuded a feverish angst and depression that were unshakably poignant? There is very little of that here, which in itself may present Any Man In America’s most disappointing facet. Traditionally, this is a band that has offered up some of alt-rock’s most vivid images of disgust and self-loathing, along with tales of dysfunctional relationships and unmendable heartbreak. The band’s sixth LP isn’t without its moments of lyrical accomplishment, but for the most part, it is their weakest effort to date in that department. You wouldn’t know it from the record’s gushingly romantic opener, however, as ‘The Feel Again’ tugs at your heart strings with passages like, “I see the sun go up as your image / And I feel the weight of your eyes as you stare / I feel it all when you, when you first, when you kissed my lips / You used to make me feel at home, you made me feel at home, you made me feel again.” With a sound that blends Rod Stewart’s romantic desperation and Genesis’ sense of atmospheric urgency, this is easily the best song on the album. While Any Man In America stays pretty consistent across the board in terms of musical quality, the lyrics become questionable and at times even cringe-worthy, such as the title track’s awkward reference to Martin Luther King and the excerpt from ‘The Worry List’, “This is what my story's about / I might have been gone but I never walked out / I'm packin' it up, and I'm comin' today.” Maybe even the best writers out there suffer from a case of the clichés when an album takes a hard mainstream turn, but the odd thing is that Blue October was kind of already at that point. Make of it what you will, but the band’s lyrics aren’t the deal breaker on Any Man In America that they were on previous works in their discography.

The real attraction here is the bombastic sound and glorified production that allows Blue October’s music to finally match their moxie. This has always been a group with ambition, and even with the way that Foiled yielded hit after hit (‘Into The Ocean’, just to name one), there was always the feeling that they had a bit of an eccentric side that wasn’t being put up to its full, grandiose potential. Almost as if front man Justin Furstenfeld took a hammer to Blue October and shattered it into multiple pieces of “genre chunks”, Any Man In America is eclectic in the purest sense of the word. ‘The Money Tree’ is an insanely infectious blend of half-rapped, half-sung pop, driven by strings and a catchy, optimistic sounding electronic backbeat. ‘For The Love’ and ‘Drama Everything’ are subdued songs more along the lines of traditional Blue October, but they also possess a sleek pop/R&B sound that matches the rest of the album’s tone. ‘The Chills’ is a straightforward rocker, with an aggressive vocal edge and shrieking guitar riffs that lie somewhere between melodic and blistering. All three of these tracks, while obviously different in sound and songwriting premise, comprise three of Any Man In America’s brightest shining tracks (and all three have high upside as singles). Even though some of the rapped verses in tracks like ‘The Flight’ take things too far for Blue October, they manage to be completely consistent and entertaining as a whole. In essence, it is the album’s ability to be widely inclusive yet so unexpectedly cohesive that makes it an unequivocally fun experience, not to mention an absolute pleasure to listen to.

With all of the welcome adjustments Blue October brought on board this time around, it is difficult to label Any Man In America anything other than progressive. It isn’t progressive like Dream Theater is, obviously, because the band doesn’t aim to fulfill any obligatory aspect of the genre’s requirements. There is no need for constant time signature and momentum changes, nor is there a feeling of pressure at all on this band to do anything that lasts in excess of ten minutes. This is progressive in a much better sense of the word: it expands Blue October’s horizons to include rap, hip-hop, and R&B characteristics while still retaining the main aspects of their personality that fans adore. Blue October is changing as they see fit whilst allowing their music to mold itself accordingly, and the result is their strongest release to date.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I feel dirty for liking this, seeing as it's (1) Blue October (2) becoming even more mainstream accessible (3) by including rap and hip-hop elements.

I'm gonna go take a shower.

Digging: Damien Rice - My Favourite Faded Fantasy

RosaParks
August 22nd 2011


14972 Comments


I can't see myself liking this but I'll check out some songs later. Nice review.

Jethro42
August 22nd 2011


12550 Comments


My ex thought I would like the band because ''It's sounds like Peter Gabriel'', she said to me. So untrue. I've only heard ''Hate Me'' (non-stop at the radio) and couple more tracks. That was enough thank you.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I think he sounds a little like Peter Gabriel, not nearly as good though.

And the references to Genesis in my review mostly pertain to that similarity, along with the way that "The Feel Again" just sounds like a Genesis song strictly from a musical perspective

Jethro42
August 22nd 2011


12550 Comments


'The Feel Again' actually reminds me some segments of Gabriel's song ''Secret World''. I have to confess: vocals sound pretty similar to the maestro, but I do prefer the original over the ''photocopy''. I still have to read your review...
Secret World;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KN1zO-ejJvE
Jethro was there.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


17225 Comments


everything i've heard from this has been shit.

Jethro42
August 22nd 2011


12550 Comments


Excellent review, pos'd.


Parallels
August 22nd 2011


6643 Comments


aw man I was wanting to review this

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

you still should haha

Eko
August 22nd 2011


2119 Comments


posd

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


7318 Comments


I've never trusted this band. And after reading this review - well-written as it was - I'm still quite unsure. That lyrical excerpt from the apparent best song on the album is particularly discouraging haha.

Digging: Portishead - Dummy

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

But Irving that song is so good!

Knott-
Emeritus
August 22nd 2011


10198 Comments


I love this album.

howcomeionlygetthechillswheniamwithyou?

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


7318 Comments


“I see the sun go up as your image / And I feel the weight of your eyes as you stare / I feel it all when you, when you first, when you kissed my lips / You used to make me feel at home, you made me feel at home, you made me feel again” sounds corny as fuck. And yes, I KNOW that you shouldn't judge an album (or a song, for that matter) based on one line, but it sure as hell is doing a good job of scaring me away lolololol.

Knott-
Emeritus
August 22nd 2011


10198 Comments


Well if corny is something which you detest then Blue October aren't for you, but the dude is one of the most sincere frontmen in music, it's not manufactured in the slightest, and his voice rules. I don't know, as I've said numerous times, I have a massive soft spot for this band.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

I see the sun go down on the river
I feel the wind blow out, would've stayed to gray
I feel the air around you it's kinda closing in
Do you feel it fall or do you feel at all again?

I see the world keep moving as I stumble
They seem to move much faster than me
And while I sit in my four cornered room dividing hearts for a little girl
While I can't be anything but who I am

And I wish you'd stay
That was the beginning of the two of us, the start of our show
Stay stay stay
I would never have let go

And I see the sun go up as your image
And I feel the weight of your eyes as you stare
I feel it all when you, when you first, when you kissed my lips
You used to make me feel at home, you made me feel at home, you made me feel again

Oh and that's when you used to say will you stay and not let go
That was just the two of us to think about, the stars of our show
And you would say I'd wish you'd stay and I'd never go
Oh I would never have let go!

So take this heart of mine
You've taken it a hundred thousand times
But this time, this time I'm gonna take it with me

I see the door close down behind you
I watch your face turn from glow to straight gray
I see the moon go up and it shines this glory on my face
Who would know? Who would know? Who would know!
How we would stay and we should stay and never let go
There's just three of us to think about now in our show, our show, our show
I'd think we'd stay, we'd just stay, and then we'd know
That we should never let go
Something to think about oh...
Just look into those big brown eyes and you'd just fall apart
We should stay, we should stay, at least she'd know
That we should never let go
No, no, let go, go...

I wish you'd stay
I wish you'd stay...





Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


7318 Comments


Hold me Sowing...and don't let go.

Irving
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


7318 Comments


Ugh you and Sowing have convinced me Knott...guess I'll try this out if I get the chance.

Ugh.

Parallels
August 22nd 2011


6643 Comments


You probably could have made your near-end point without mentioning DT. That just makes me want to give the "Wat" face.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
August 22nd 2011


16789 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

comparing progressive the genre to progressive the descriptor

DT was the goat for my analogy

edit: and yeah you are probably right



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