A Lot Like Birds
Conversation Piece


2.5
average

Review

by danielito19 USER (21 Reviews)
October 26th, 2011 | 79 replies | 5,175 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A Lot Like Birds now sound like their name would imply they do.

6 of 15 thought this review was well written

I was first exposed to A Lot Like Birds when I heard Plan B. The album was amazing after first listen, and only got better. The only detractor was the obnoxious amount of samples. Besides that, Plan B was spectacular – it’s easily one of my favorite albums of all time. Naturally, when I heard that ALLB was working on releasing another album, I was thrilled. However, the excitement phase went downhill from there. “Kurt Travis Joins A Lot Like Birds,” sputnikmusic informed me. I’ve never liked Dance Gavin Dance, for the simple reason that they owe too much influence to the scene crowd, and pander to them almost exclusively. However, I was still optimistic. As new song after new song from Conversation Piece was released, my enthusiasm turned to horror, as I realized ALLB was becoming Dance Gavin Dance.

Critics often cite “lack of progression from previous albums” as a reason to pan a band. ALLB hasn’t progressed. Granted, they’ve changed, but this is degeneration, not progression. They went from an absolutely beautiful, instrumental-driven progressive rock group that utilized every member to the fullest extent to a band not unlike the Touche Amores and AFIs of the world. These bands have incredible talent, be it technical talent or songwriting talent; however, they choose instead to pander to the lowest common denominator and make accessible albums with no real meaning.

So, what does degeneration sound like? Those who have heard Plan B will recall that the vocals were sparsely placed, and usually low in the mix, and repetition was generally absent. Conversation Piece features a turn-around in the vocal department, as Kurt Travis is on the top of the mix wherever he appears, drowning out the occasional impressive guitar riff with his easily predictable tenor, nearly alto melodies. Cory Lockwood, the band’s original vocalist, covers the screaming duties, and does a fairly excellent job at it; however, he also is far too prevalent. The lyrical quality has also fallen on Conversation Piece. A quick Google search confirmed my suspicions that Kurt basically wrote the same jargon he penned for his two albums with Dance Gavin Dance.

The guitar section is probably the most impressive part of Conversation Piece. Technical where shredding seems apt, chugging during the right parts, and playing off each other with excellent harmonies when it’s needed. My only complaint is that the guitars have become more repetitive with ALLB’s giant leap towards formulaically structured songs. An example of the guitarists’ skills can be found in the intro riff of Vanity’s Fair.

The rhythm section also hasn’t changed too much. The bass is actually quite prevalent in the mix, forcing the guitars under just about everyone else. The bass on this album isn’t amazing, but is at least more than merely competent, and audible (which is more than can be said for most scene bands!). The drums are in the same boat in the bass, minus the production, being relatively low. The drummer places fills where they’re needed, and just keeps time elsewhere.

Conversation Piece is at least better than its ‘singles.’ As a (-n ex-?) progressive band, they shouldn’t have ‘singles.’ Where these tracks imply a total lack of originality, the less established tracks often hold a good deal of listenable material, if you can dig underneath Kurt’s egotism.



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user ratings (615)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
Mark A. (4.5)
Conversation Piece is the most creative and enjoyable post hardcore listen that has surfaced in quit...

Charlie (4)
Post-hardcore rockers A Lot Like Birds take an otherwise stagnating genre into new and exciting dire...

mrpurple (2)
Too much insanity, nothing really enjoyable was spawned....

Jacob R. STAFF (4.5)
Conversation Piece serves as a definitive time capsule of the best that post-hardcore has had to off...

related reviews

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Plan B
recommended by reviewer
Dance Gavin Dance Downtown Battle Mountain II

Comments:Add a Comment 
danielito19
October 26th 2011



4681 Comments


Criticism welcome.

foxblood
October 26th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you seem to like bashing DGD in your reviews for some reason haha. otherwise you make some good points. i agree with some of them, but i still like this quite a bit

WatchItExplode
October 26th 2011



3217 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wow, you got me really excited to listen to this album tonight. Sorry it had that effect, but great read anyway.

Capablanca
October 26th 2011



204 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

"you seem to like bashing DGD in your reviews for some reason haha. otherwise you make some good points. i agree with some of them, but i still like this quite a bit"
This. Also try to make it less personal, and rephrase or delete that sputnikmusic thing. Pos' anyway.

Digging: Arctic Monkeys - AM

tkxxx7
October 26th 2011



6153 Comments


Review is so informal I thought Chan wrote it

witchxrapist
October 26th 2011



11010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

This album isn't really degeneration, it's just a style you didn't want.

Shit's stellar, imo.

transatlanticfoe
October 26th 2011



171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Saying that a progressive band shouldn't have singles is kinda silly, and Your Ex...is much poppier than any song on this album anyway. Most of the songs on Plan B have little repetition and structure to a fault, and I think the songwriting is actually much stronger here. The song structures on this album aren't predictable either. I liked the usually sparse use of vocals on the last album though.

witchxrapist
October 26th 2011



11010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The emotion thrown into the vocals on here makes it work so hard.

The spoken part in Properties Of Friction, hell yes.

RosaParks
October 26th 2011



14836 Comments


I endorse this review

bmsmcr
October 26th 2011



118 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Nice review, completely disagree with it though :D

RosaParks
October 26th 2011



14836 Comments


your opinion is wrong

danielito19
October 26th 2011



4681 Comments


you seem to like bashing DGD in your reviews for some reason haha.


I don't like DGD. This is VERY similar to DGD, so it's warranted. My other DGD-bashing review is a POS so don't take it seriously.

Wow, you got me really excited to listen to this album tonight. Sorry it had that effect, but great read anyway.


Damn.

Also try to make it less personal, and rephrase or delete that sputnikmusic thing. Pos' anyway.


My writing comes off incredibly stilted if I don't have my persona infused in it. It's a weakness I'll acknowledge any day. Thanks for the pos.

Review is so informal I thought Chan wrote it


Only difference is that Chan is a good writer.

This album isn't really degeneration, it's just a style you didn't want.


If I decided today that I was going to say 'fuck technology' and go be a caveman, it'd be degeneration, regardless of what my parents or friends or whoever wants. Making a move towards scene music is pretty much making a move towards cave-dwelling.

Saying that a progressive band shouldn't have singles is kinda silly, and Your Ex...is much poppier than any song on this album anyway. Most of the songs on Plan B have little repetition and structure to a fault, and I think the songwriting is actually much stronger here. The song structures on this album aren't predictable either. I liked the usually sparse use of vocals on the last album though.


Singles are a bullshit invention by the music industry to sell records when there's only one or two tracks of decent material. In the digital age, singles just serve to give people new material so the artist doesn't have to release a whole album. Progressive bands should be focused on writing excellent albums instead of singles.

Nothing's wrong with pop if it's done well. I never said I didn't like the poppiness of this album.

Yes, Plan B has repetition. However, it's a lot more tolerable (IMHO) when the same vocal patterns aren't being repeated on top.

And sparse vocal style on Plan B kicked gratuitous amounts of ass.

I endorse this review


Thanks. I still hate your OM&M review though.


PinkBlackberry
October 26th 2011



2346 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The emotion in the singing is easily identifiable, there are still symphonic elements and strings
thrown it, it's less trumpets and horns and more subtle but all of the things that made plan b, plan
b, are still there. the CD takes a few listens to gather everything in at once but it's definitely a
fantastic spin

The dueling vocals are out of this world, they interplay so perfectly it's ridiculous, the Lyrics
are fun and full of metaphors and as stated above very emotive.

Oh and the bass is absolutely amazing, not 'just barely audible' infact, why don't you re-listen to
the interlude in Vanity's Fair, the bass that leads into the very well done layered vocal part near
the end is
proof enough that the bass is far superior to a lot of bassists in this genre.

/e

extremely biased review aswell.

it's sad too Daniel because usually I like your reviews. Ho well.

danielito19
October 26th 2011



4681 Comments


Oh and the bass is absolutely amazing, not 'just barely audible' infact, why don't you re-listen to the interlude in Vanity's Fair, the bass that leads into the very well done layered vocal part is proof enough that the bass is far superior to a lot of bassists in this genre.

I said the bass was plenty audible and competent.

SmokingTheClouds
October 26th 2011



639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"Oh and the bass is absolutely amazing" [2]

I loved the spoken-verse moments that took place on this album. Very, Number Twelve-esque. The spoken-verse from "Sesame Street Is No Place For Romance" was easily the highlight of Plan B, for myself. So I was delightfully surprised to see it re-appear, with more prominence here.

I'd say the instrumentation alone should warrant a 3.5. But hey. maybe that's just me.

danielito19
October 26th 2011



4681 Comments


The instrumentation warrants a 3.5. The vocal-heavy production, terrible lyrics, and genericity of the clean vocals bring it down to 2.5.

SmokingTheClouds
October 26th 2011



639 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm not sure i'd use generic as a term to describe the clean singing by Kurt & Corey. Plenty of 'neat' layering, and the vocals all seem to play off one-another in an intriguing manner. By this I mean, the backing vocals, commonly lower in the mix, play off of the lead singing, in a way that add's more dimensions to their soundscape. Kind of similar to how the guitars play off one another. Of course, none of this will matter if you dislike Kurt's singing in general.

The only real complaint I have about the review is, "if you can dig underneath Kurt’s egotism." I don't quite understand what you mean. Be it, his singing is so high in the mix, and prominent on the album that it comes off obnoxiously, or, you think he is egotistical and it shows through his singing (see: Jonny Craig).

witchxrapist
October 26th 2011



11010 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The vocal interplay is really well done bros and genericism isn't a word.

transatlanticfoe
October 26th 2011



171 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

The vocals are decent, i don't love kurt's voice or anything but yeah. And the lyrics are 923983984x better than anything DGD has

foxblood
October 26th 2011



6797 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

no one beats mess's lyrics. jonny yeah his lyrics on dbmII were terrible



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