Review Summary: A band that takes grunge for a different type of spin around the block.
Creating something creative and different, while still being listenable and enjoyable is a rare thing. Try accomplishing that feat at the ripe old age of 17. Travis Meeks, front man for Days of the New, proved he could do just that. In 1997, with the wake of a Nirvana-less music industry, it would have been easy for the Days to simply become a clone band to try to capitalize on the grunge genre. This young group showed that they intended to do no such thing, and succeed in making something of themselves with their debut album. The songwriting is deeper than most bands twice Meeks’ age and the guitars certainly speak for themselves. I mean, the guy sounds like he could be in his late twenties. His singing definitely ain’t perfect but he usually hits the pitch he needs too without straining. His deep growl gets the point across.
Much of the talent shown in this band lies in the tight guitar work shared by Meeks and Whitener. Note if you don’t like acoustics you’ll hate this band, as that’s all they play. This is nothing like a band tossing a single (and usually bland) acoustic song onto an album. They create very deep, flowing melodies, and work off each other very well. Another strong point for Days; there are no attempts to overshadow the group by any member. They work in unison on every one of these songs, no clashing of noise here. Meeks’ and Whitener’s playing on the guitars are impressive throughout and Taul’s drums are solid. No over-extravagant solos, just what’s needed to complete a song. Vest’s bass carries the songs well enough but never jumps out at any moment, it is simply there for background noise, plain and simple. The album isn’t mind blowing but it does have its strong points which pull the slack for the weaker ones.
Shelf in the Room (5/5): This starts things out on a good foot; begins with the chords that repeat throughout the song. The drums kick in at the minute mark and the song takes off. I liked the lyrics in this one, talks about being trapped, most likely with his parents; this is a song many can relate too. The chorus is powerful and the repeated chords don’t tire throughout the song. At about 3:30 there’s short solo followed by repeated vocals of “holdin’ out, never hold in.” Shelf in the Room is a great opener and one of the best songs on the album.
Touch, Peel, and Stand (5/5): This is it. If you’ve heard of Days of the New, it’s probably because of this song. Their hit single is also my favorite off the album. From the start you can tell this is going to be a song you can get into. Every instrument compliments the other perfectly in this one. Both bass and bass drum match the guitars really well and the chorus can easily stick in your head all day. The solo at 2:40 is one of the longest on this album and shows off Meek’s speed and technicality. I could praise this song all day from its catchy beat to the lyrics. If you listen to just one Days song, make it this one, it’s that good.
Face of the Earth (3/5): This was somewhat boring. It’s not necessarily bad, there’s just nothing to jump out. The overlaid guitars at the beginning are pretty cool, as is the drum opening. I liked this song up until the chorus and it turned me off. The continual repeating of “face of the earth” annoys me. This is more of a background song, not something that’ll get you moving or even singing. On its own, it’s not a bad song, just not near as impressive as the two before it.
Solitude (2.5/5): This is one of the weak links of the album. Solitude has a heavier feel to it in both guitar and lyrics. Words in this are by the group throughout. Just like in the previous song, there is constant repeating, this time it’s: “you are, you are, you are you.” This was annoyed me slightly after awhile.) There is much less emotion to be found here (except for 2:55 through 3:05, where they actually sound more into it) than the others and it rarely changes pitch or tempo. It all adds up to the mood of the song but it wasn’t my thing. A somewhat bland song.
The Downtown (4/5): This starts to pick things back up again. “The Downtown” is much poppier than the rest of the album, leaning further away from grunge, but still using those elements. Lyrics have some emotion in this one and Meeks’ singing is at its best here. “Bring me down” is frequently repeated but is not irritating as in the previous two songs. This shows the group’s lighter side and it works well.
What’s Left for Me" (3.5/5): I judged this one too hard at first. I didn’t like this song at all but it grew on me some. It’s still somewhat boring but it’s at least decent. The guitar in this one is kept simple, not often straying from the opening notes and lyrics are short, with phrases being continually repeated. The song lightens up around the chorus and gets heavier right after. The instrumentals prior to the singing after the chorus set a nice mood for the words to come. It’s not great but it’s not that bad either.
Freak (5/5): “Freak” opens with some lighter guitar work which gives no hint as to the awesome heaviness of the chorus. Quick double kicks on the bass drum lead the charge into the singing of “I won’t, I can’t, I’m lost, I’m a freak.” The song quickly transforms back to the original melody before returning right back to heavy chorus. Everything flows really well in this song. Off pitched guitars permeate the speakers after the second chorus, just adding to the greatness of this song. These guys play their asses off in this one and it sounds great. Some really powerful singing fuels this song to the end. Sounds like this could’ve been an acoustic song by Nirvana, which is definitely not a bad thing. After this you’ll be feeling like a freak all day long.
Now (5/5): This one caught on the first time I heard it. After the amazing opening, the guitars are very catchy and take on a Spanish sounding quality, switching off throughout. Vest’s bass stands out more here than anywhere else and really adds to the music. The long solo at 3:00 starts out low and stays impressive for the entire minute and fifteen seconds. The last minute consists of Meeks repeating now, now, now after the guitar solo fades back into song melody. A great song; one of the best to be found here.
Where I Stand (3.5/5): This song starts out slower and quickly switches to a Spanish sounding chops, before a short burst of intense overlaid playing hits you in the face. “Where I Stand” is repeated throughout the quick strumming. Vocals cease around 4:00, and the song becomes instrumental with some hand drums thrown in the mix. A slower guitar solo chimes in at 4:40 and Meeks shouting “Yeah” finished out the song.
Whimsical (3/5): “Whimsical” starts out beautifully and the high pitched little opener takes off into a deep sound and deeper lyrical journey. “Subjected to the mother of you nature, Limited to the color of your eyes, Drained by the one you call your lover, She don’t care if you live or die.” Now I don’t always understand what the hell Meeks is talking about but most of his lyrics at least make me try to read into them, which is a lot more than I can say for many of the bands out there today; even bands I listen to. A decent song overall.
How Do You Know You" (2/5): If you could call anything spacey or out there, it would be this one. Low group vocals come through and add to the heavier mood. Whitener lends his voice more on this song but there’s not much else to say. More of a background song than something to interact with. The high point is the 30 second solo at 3:35. Other than that, not very inspired.
Cling (1/5): Personally, I thought the album should be well over by now. My least favorite part of the album is the long winded “Cling.” 15:27 of distorted, echoic guitar and singing. The minute of quick strumming at 4:00 was the only thing that interested me here. But wow, it’s followed by 3 minutes of silence! Birds chime in after the never-ending void, then guitar, and after a while some hand drums come in to finish things off. All in all, a complete waste of time here. The band should have had the decency to finish things off on a better note.
Despite the long pointless end. The album rocks and is still a breath of fresh air for grunge rock. This is definitely grungy material but Days of the New puts a new and daring spin on things. These guys definitely have talent to create something so deep with an instrument usually not used as the primary tool in this style of music. This album can be boring at times but if you can appreciate the mostly deep lyrics and the skill-full guitar work, this could be something you might want to check out.
• All acoustic and still sounds bad-ass.
• Touch, Peel, and Stand.
• Different from your typical grunge.
• Had to listen to the full album a bunch for this review and am damn glad I did.
• Sweet guitar work.
• Some boring songs.
• Singing not always up to par.
• Meeks’ love for crystal meth (hey at least he did some rehab).
All of this adds up to around a 3.5, but I’m bumping it up to a 4 the enjoyable songs on here were in fact so enjoyable. I think the good far outweighs the bad on this album and hopefully Meeks can get his *** together and make that Purple album.
Days of the New is:
Travis Meeks: Guitar, Vocals
Todd Whitener: Guitar
Jesse Vest: Bass
Matt Taul: Drums