Last summer, the magazine Guitar World
ran a huge article on the “New Jersey emo explosion.” Now, since I’m a (somewhat) proud resident of this state, I thought it was pretty cool about all the comparisons that it was drawing to Seattle and the grunge movement of the early 90s. Needless to say, it also got me interested in a few bands that I had heard of, but hadn’t necessarily heard.
So one day after work I made a short trek up to the local boardwalk on a CD purchasing mission. You could relate the prices of CDs up here to that of a mall’s: expensive. However, I didn’t really care much. Three hours (8 CDs, 3 shirts, and a lost paycheck later) I returned home to listen to my new finds. I just so happened to pop Midtown’s Forget What You Know
into my stereo first.
As soon as I pressed play, I was met with the intro track “Armageddon,” which is essentially a chant of “So hard to believe what you’re looking for,” which are the intro lyrics for the first song, “To Our Savior.” “To Our Savior” starts off strong with good instrumentation and great singing (particularly for this genre, the slightly grittier vocals are a welcome change). “Give It Up” starts of with a little bit of bass, but smoothes out into a nice, melodic song. This is the first song that you might consider truly “catchy.”
“Is It Me" Is It True",” starts off the slowest of the songs so far. It’s an emotion-packed song about a person being a pathological liar or something of that nature. Hey, as long as they’re not screaming and singing about suicide, I dig it (not to follow the emo stereotype, of course).
“God Is Dead,” is a piano intro for the next song, “Whole New World.” “Whole New World” is probably the best song on the album (at least in my opinion). It has well-written vocals, good instrumentation, and a hooky chorus. It’s also got a nice, somewhat mellow theme to go along with it. “Empty Like the Ocean,” conveys a simple emotion: anger. What Midtown is raging against in this track, I may never know. What I do know, however, is that this is a good song with excellent (if depressing) lyrics.
“Nothing is Ever What It Seems,” is another one of my favorites. It’s got a faster, more energetic feel than the latter track, “Empty Like the Ocean,” so they compliment each other well. ‘The Tragedy of the Human Condition,” is another filler track. It leads into “Waiting for the News.” This song has a nice, ambient feel to it. This is made apparent by the piano work and the soft, mellow guitars. It climaxes in a slightly harder chorus, but it’s still a welcome change of pace.
“Until it Kills,” is a very poppy song. It has a good, laid-back feel to it, so that’s hardly a bad thing. “Hey Baby Don’t You Know We’re All Whores",” is something of an interesting song. It certainly brings back the emotion, but Midtown’s assessment of the whole world as being full of whores is…odd (to each his own, I suppose). “Help Me Sleep,” starts of quietly ambient, but than matures into a louder, catchy song. Hooks galore, this is probably the song you will sing along to most.
“Manhattan,” could be classified as yet another filler. It’s ambient until about 1:35 when it actually breaks into music for about 30 seconds, and then back to ambience. I guess this was so Midtown could warm up for Forget What You Know
’s finale: The 13 minute long “So Long As We Keep Our Bodies Numb We’re Safe.” This song also contains two bonus tracks, “Celebration” and “Sister Golden Hair.” I always thought the trend of putting “hidden” songs into the end of another song was fairly pointless, but I’m not one of the million or so artists who do it, so maybe I march different drum beat.
All in all, Midtown has a strong effort with Forget What You Know
. It’s a good album with well-written lyrics, good instrument work, and whine-less vocals. It’s a welcome change of pace from the radio-ruling emo, and I like it. I’d recommend fans of the genre picking this up, as well as pop-punkers or any other rocker in general, I suppose. And of course, this should be required purchasing for residents of New Jersey, so we can all stay active in out budding “Seattle.”
Some songs follow a similar format
Can be boring
Rob Hitt - Drums
Tyler Rann - Guitar/Vocals
Gabe Saporta- Vocals/Bass
Heath Saraceno - Guitar/Vocals