Review Summary: American Football's one and only full length. This CD is very relaxing, and hard to put in a genre. I would use the words "feel good" and "chill" to describe this album.
For some background, American Football was a trio from Urbana, Illinois. I can’t say they fit into a specific genre. I see them labeled as “indie,” but some more fitting adjectives I can think of are “chill, feel good, and relax” music. This is the kind of band that can make an entire CD, and as you listen to it, it feels as if every song was meant for you personally. This CD is an excellent listen regardless of what mood you are in.
In their first full length CD, they don’t change much from their prior EP released one year earlier, mostly soft, mellow music. Their drummer Steve Lamos plays trumpet on some tracks and that trumpet sound fits perfect with their music. In my opinion, it is that trumpet that pushes it from “great” to “superb.”
From the very first song, “Never Meant,” you can pretty much tell this is going to be a good CD. It starts with what sounds like a sound check for the drums, and than Steve clicks the band in. The electric guitar comes in with some soothing picking, and than after a little you get your first taste of the amazing vocals/lyrics on this album.
The vocals/lyrics are what really stick out. Their bassist Mike Kinsella is also their singer. You might recognize that name; he is also in the band Joan of Arc. It amazes me how he can write his lyrics, and they fit perfect with the song. Some great lyricists don’t get recognized because the music of the band doesn’t necessarily fit with them. Some lyrics on this album are depressing, and some just make you think. Whether they are about a girl or just about life in general and the struggles everybody has at some point in their life, anybody can relate to what he is singing. Even if he wasn’t a good lyricist, his vocals could make anything sound meaningful. He could be singing about bananas and mayonnaise and still hit home with someone. He sings with a lot of emotion and that is something a lot of singers lack. You always know he really means what he is singing.
The guitar on this album is played by Steve Holmes. Now, I am not a guitarist, so I cannot judge him by technical skill, but I can say that whatever he is doing sounds great. For most of the album he is just picking, but there is some strumming in the choruses. The picking helps bring out how relaxing this album really this. Just because this CD is pretty mellow, doesn’t mean the guitar doesn’t stick out.
On a pretty soft album, people may think that the drummer can’t really stick out. However, the drums on this album are not boring. Being a drummer I can say it would be real easy to just play something simple. With this kind of music, he probably wouldn’t catch much slack for playing simple either, but it wouldn’t help the music. He plays some pretty technical beats and knows exactly what to play, and when to play it. He knows when to play, and when to hold back, which are both just as important in the finished product of a song. A great standout track for Lamos’ drumming is “I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional.” What he is playing is fairly technical, but also fits the song perfect.
Throughout this album everything fits perfect. Out of everything I have heard, I can’t say I have listened to an album as soothing and relaxing as this. No matter what you are going through, you will be able to relate to this CD.
- Great for relaxing
- Mixed very well
- Could use some more interesting bass
- Needs a little more variety
- Never Meant - The first track on the album. This showcases almost everything I mentioned that makes this album so great. The drums sound great on this song and the vocals are very nicely done. One of my favorite album-openers.
- Honestly? - When I was talking about the lyrics and emotional vocals in this album, this is the main song that was popping in my head. In all my favorite albums, there is one line or just one small segment in a particular song that I just love, and for this CD it would have to be in this song where Mike sings “All the Whos are there, but the Whys are unclear.” I know it sounds odd to base it on one line, but line bumps him up to one of my favorite vocalists.
- I’ll See You When We’re Both Not So Emotional - This song starts out with probably my favorite drums on the CD. I think this song, like Never Meant, showcases what they do very well. Listen to this for an idea of what the band is all about.