Thursday, 17 June 2010

Erase This – CD Review

Lyrics + Bass: Alan Lastufka
Vocals: Luke Conard
Guitar: Jason Munday
Drums: Christian Caldeira
Piano: Ted Hu
Backing Vocals: Jason Munday, Kristina Horner

I posted a video blog about Alan Lastufka’s album Erase This about a day after I got the digital download a month and a half or so back. I’ll save you the hassle of watching it and just sum it up with 2 words I used in the video: “Musical perfection”.

That was the only way I could describe it after one full listen through.

Now, with a play count on my iTunes alone (not including on my iPod, or the CD, or the DVD, all of which combined probably add another 30-40plays each, just my iTunes) of over 20 for every track, I feel its time to come back and break it down properly.

So here it is, track by track:

Making a Scene: What an opening. Sax solos, great lyrics, and great vocals (both from Luke and Jason), this is a lesson in how to open an album.

Shortwave Part 1: My favourite track on the album by a mile and away. I could literally listen to this every minute of every day. A great catchy pop tune, the mix here is just perfect, Luke Conard’s vocals mesh perfectly with the band behind them, all of which play their parts in forming an absolutely symphony behind him. When the static breaks in with Shortwave Part 2, the true concept of this amazing album shines through in a way which is just indescribably good. Alan really triumphs here.

All I Am: This piano led track is very different from the two which come before – much more melodic and reflective. This and Mirror Song which follows are a great interlude between the first few tracks and the body of the album which follows after them.

Mirror Song: Originally placed on Alan’s Taking Leave EP, this song has been COMPLETELY revamped and revitalised to the point of being unrecognisable. When I heard there was going to be a new Mirror Song before the album came out I was shocked – the original having shone for me on Taking Leave, but this version is so much better. It perhaps feels a little bit of a cheat to have this song repeated from TL (as well as Forgiven later on), but it really is so different that it’s acceptable. Maybe it’s because I know Luke and Kristina are together, but you can literally feel the feelings between them as this ballad unfolds, and this is stronger than anything ALL CAPS have shown to date.

Turn Signal: Breaking into the second half of the album the band returns in full force for what is undoubtedly the most rock and roll track on the album. It was an early favourite of mine, and remains in the forefront.

Boxcar Blood: This song is the first official single on the album, although ironically I think it might be the weakest offering. That’s not to say it’s not a great track, which it is, but if I’d been making the decision I would have led with Turn Signal. I’m not sure what it is about Boxcar, it just didn’t pack a punch with me the first time round, it really took me a couple of listens to get into it in the same way.

Winter’s Song: The album as a whole is a dysfunctional love story, and this is the point when the dysfunction is at its highest.

“While you sing, sing, sing your own ending,
I want to start at the beginning.
While you lie, lie, lie there pretending,
My words quietly keep on spinning”

Conard pines. Desperate for a love song he wrote to be recognised as such by the girl who claims to be his greatest fan, he realises he simply cannot get through to her, and the song ends with a particularly dark piano part.

Shortwave Part 2: And we’re back to Shortwave. After Winter’s Song the uplift into this song is tremendous. The protagonists are “….no longer hiding, doubting”, but instead standing together at last, singing together. As a listener you feel you simply have to join in as Conard informs us that it’s time to “sing it out loud, as if we’re all singing along.” Everyone has come on this emotional journey and it’s almost at its climax. Almost.

Forgiven: Another Taking Leave veteran, this is more recognisable than Mirror Song, but again a vast improvement on the original. Killswitch Kevin comes in one last time and spins his final track (although not the albums). This is an anthem. A straight up anthemic masterpiece. You can almost visualise Jason Munday rocking his guitar solo on stage, as Christian, Alan and Luke all shine with their parts of the song. This is a song for stadiums.

Erase This: This was the first song Alan wrote for the album, initially titled “This.” About a guy who, despite being in a relationship which isn’t working, always ends up going back for more. “I knew what you would do before I even knew you” the character says, almost joking at this point that the relationship is so predictable that it’s never going anywhere different. But maybe that’s the point. “Familiar hands and familiar places” are what we think we need.

As a whole: This album is, simply, my favourite album ever. “Now hold on” I hear you say. “That’s a bold claim!” I know it is. And not one I will make lightly. The connection I made with this album from the very moment I first heard it was unique. I just couldn’t describe it even. The album doesn’t have any of my all time top-10 favourite tracks on it, but as an album, as a whole, it’s simply perfect. The concept is superb and amazingly executed, and from the first bars of Making a Scene to the final moments of Erase This, Alan has taken me on a rollercoaster of emotions, leaving off with a sort of cathartic release that many songwriters could only wish for.

1 comment:

  1. James, I can't say "thanks" enough for your review. Really appreciate it man, glad you enjoy the album so much.