James Durbin
Memories of a Beautiful Disaster


3.0
good

Review

by Jeff F. USER (10 Reviews)
February 12th, 2012 | 23 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Too much filler to be considered great, but James' vocals make this an album that really should be listened to by any of his AI fans.

Already one of the 100 best frontmen of rock according to Revolver, and one of the more exciting participants in American Idol history, James Durbin has already made his impact on mainstream music. He tried to bring metal to the big AI stage, and for the most part succeeded in spades. His inability to conform to what others thought was best, and his sheer passion for rock music and performing made him a treat to see on such a stale, overdone show. Many months later and we see the release of James' first album; while he does abandon his "metal" persona for the most part, his vocal capabilities and extreme passion for his art make this an album that is so much more enjoyable than other idol contestants he will no doubt be compared to.

The name of the game on Memories of a Beautiful Disaster, however, is a feeling of restraint that should've been expected given that James is still connected to an American Idol record company; for every hard rock anthem like Stand Up or Outcast, where James and the band kick it up a notch and treat the listener to great rock and fantastic vocals, there are tracks like Love Me Bad and All I Want that seem tailor made for pop radio, with overly simplistic music and downright laughably bad lyrics that make James sound like he's truly forgotten what made him so popular to begin with.

From the get go, though, it's at least apparent that James had some say in the recording and writing process, as the first track Higher than Heaven begins with a nice heavy riff that, coupled with the uptempo drums and bass, make for a rocking opening. James nicely demonstrates his wide vocal range, phenomenal at that, and a surprising guitar solo is thrown in for good measure. At the very least, the first song keeps hope high that this won't be like Daughtry or David Cook's first albums, where the pop was prevalent and the rock was sparse. Unfortunately, hopes are somewhat dashed by track 2, the completely uninspired All I Want. While his vocals are still quite strong, the lyrical content and extremely bland backing music create an extremely mediocre attempt at pop-rock radio, essentially taking away the feeling that James was going to stay rocking throughout.

The remainder of the album essentially follows this type of format, where a strong track is typically followed by one or more mediocre tracks, greatly ruining the flow of the album and making for a disjointed record, despite the strength of some of its tracks. While Love Me Bad is among the worst songs on the album, with the horrendously cliche lyrics and awful, boring music, Love in Ruins sees James showcasing his extremely wide, and very impressive, vocal range, where he hits some very high notes during the chorus, right before the guitar solo, and at the tail end, where his vocals are quite akin to early Steven Tyler.

Among the other high points are the 80's glam metal track Outcast, the primarily acoustic Everything Burns, and the rocking (NFL) anthem Stand Up. The former sees Mick Mars join the party, much like Slash on Daughtry's debut; while not among Mick's best work, it makes for a hard rocking track, where James' vocals make it sounds like he's having a blast. Mick's playing coupled with James' vocals prove that he really can have a bright future in the rock music scene. The next track, Everything Burns, sees the acoustic guitar taking a backseat to James for the vast majority, giving the listener another chance to just focus on the vocals, rather than how hard a song does or doesn't rock. One thing that's easy to forget in the whole 'give metal a chance' persona was that the true force behind all of the performances was his fantastic voice, not the music that may or may not have been 'metal;' songs like Everything Burns and May showcase this quite well.

Nevertheless, James saves one of the best for last, in the rocking, anthemic Stand Up. Sure, it breaks no new ground in rock music, but it's the type of song that James loves to sing, and it's a very catchy and uptempo track that's fun to listen to. While the lyrics are quite bland and the theme overdone, when listening to songs like this or Outcast, its quite apparent that James had an absolute blast recording, as his random shouts of "oh yeah" at the end of some verses just scream that he is still riding the high created by his awesome run on AI.

For a first release, and actually being affiliated with an American Idol label, Memories is a fine album. There are numerous occasions where James demonstrates his absurd vocal range, and shows us that he was the true reason for the popularity and success on AI, not just the fact that he was the season's "rocker." There are instances where James and the guys kick it up and rock hard, like Outcast and Stand Up, but there are also songs that seem tailor made for pop radio, like the horrendously cliche Love Me Bad and the completely restrained All I Want. Any fan of Daughtry, David Cook, or James' run on AI should enjoy this album, as there are quality tracks that demonstrate that James does have an extremely bright future. Stick to the recommended tracks, as they are the best indication of what James is truly capable of.

Recommended Tracks
Higher than Heaven
Love in Ruins
May
Outcast
Everything Burns
Stand Up



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user ratings (16)
Chart.
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Seriously been sitting on this for too long. Needed to publish just to be done with it. Constructive criticism welcome; I know it's
not my best work.

Edit: need to find album artwork. Can't upload on my iPad, but will once my laptop is up and running.

Funeralopolis
February 12th 2012


11559 Comments


`memories of a beautiful disaster

Houston`s career

Digging: Deep Puddle Dynamics - The Taste of Rain...Why Kneel

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 12th 2012


7097 Comments


" he's truly fHester's what made him "

huh?

Well done, have a pos, liked the review, the music however; i tend to steer away from anything 'gameshow' related..

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Wow...I need to find that and change it. Stupid docs2go for iPad has an absolutely terrible spellcheck and likes to combine
words sometimes. Thanks for pointing that out. And greatly appreciate the pos; I understand the wanting to stay away from
game show type releases. I typically don't watch either, but I liked him this season.

Edit: got it. Was supposed to say "forgotten." and how have u been man? Haven't seen u around here lately.

Emim
February 12th 2012


26646 Comments


wasted potential imo

I would have rather heard a compilation of his performances on Idol

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^that would have been great. While I clearly do like some of the songs on here, his performances blow this away, admittedly. Which says a lot.

Funeralopolis
February 12th 2012


11559 Comments


adam lambert is best idol

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 12th 2012


7097 Comments


Idol, was never good at finding great musical talent.

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^liked his performances, not the album. Great talent though

Funeralopolis
February 12th 2012


11559 Comments


good singers bad album makers

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^precisely. I blame the AI record execs

chargers26
February 12th 2012


492 Comments


decent album

Emim
February 12th 2012


26646 Comments


adam lambert was horrible

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Admittedly, based on the majority of the music I listen to, AI is not usually on my to watch list. Honest to God, the latest issue
of Revolver got me to buy this album. I don't regret it.

And they turned me onto The Mars Volta. I still must thank them for that

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
February 12th 2012


7097 Comments


Sputnik is my major source of new music.

Muse1748
February 12th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

And I will admit that a great deal of the new music I listen to is from here. Such as your review of the new Exit Ten. Quite liked that album; Life is a staple in my gym playlists now

BassDemon333
February 13th 2012


3399 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This could have been so much better if he didnt succumb to the mainstream and stayed closer to his metal roots

Digging: Slipknot - .5: The Gray Chapter

Muse1748
February 13th 2012


160 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

^i completely agree. It's the fact that he's being backed by American Idol, I feel. He clearly had/has a future in hard rock/metal. It's a shame that they wanted him to go more mainstream.

sputsab
February 13th 2012


1 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I am a HUGE fan of James and this review reflects my feelings exactly. It's the need to appease the AI audience that held James back into pop rock on a couple songs and relegated tracks like "Liberate" and "Back for More" to bonus tracks on iTunes (I suggest everyone give them a listen, they are the best of this album!). It is because of the 3 bonus tracks that I gave the album a 4.

I am hoping on his next album that he does away with all semblance of pop. Would love James to stick with this hard rock core.

What also blows my mind is that this album was thrown together in mere weeks.

Gia1
February 13th 2012


1 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

He did have to put some things on album for his AI base. He is not signed w/AI record co. He is with Wind Up and I love his voice, so I don't care if he sang the phone book I would buy and listen to. I expect his next album will be more Rock and Metal. James loves a lot of genres and I think that will always reflect in his albums. And those of us who are big fans love that about him, it is the voice and I can not wait for more. I do agree that he will be a big star. He's 23 and that gives him a lot of years to win over the nay sayers. Now if we could just keep the Glamberts off of every review that is for James, they will not leave James and Adam to do their own thing.



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