Album: Alan Smithee: Wash Away
Street Date: August 13, 2005
From: Los Angeles, CA
Reviewed by: John
Buy It: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/smithee2
I discovered Alan Smithee a year ago by accident when I stumbled onto one of their live performances. Since then I have been looking forward to the release of this album. An incredible band to see live, Alan Smithee had a lot to prove with the release of Wash Away.
1. My Life - Hands-down one of the best tracks on the album, "My Life" is an incredible way to start listening to Alan Smithee. The drums and guitar draw you right into the track and then the vocals hook you. Welcome to the album. I think this song is a perfect way for the band to introduce themselves musically simply because it brings to the forefront every amazing element they have to offer. Good lyrics, great use of band instrumentation, and a musical buildup that doesn't disappoint. The lyrics themselves are also uplifting in a very real sense, giving the song a powerful edge that is complimented harmoniously by the music.
2. Wash Away - The title track, "Wash Away" keeps the pace set up in "My Life" and draws you further into Alan Smithee's musical world. Powerful lyrics again complimented by a strong musical drive keep you hooked, but you will also start to hear each member start to shine in their own way in this piece. One of their best qualities, Alan Smithee has managed to find a way for each instrument to reach its own amazing height while still working together to present a strong, fully cohesive, and flowing track of music.
3. Into You - Continuing to expand their style outward with each track, "Into You" has several different pieces that all join together extremely well into a song that tells a story as much with its music as it does its lyrics. In addition to their already established musical drive, the backup vocals and violin really bring this song home. The bridge is particularly powerful, building up to a nice, strong finish. You'll especially want to listen to this track with a nice pair of stereo headphones. It'll really make you appreciate how much thought went into that bridge.
4. California Calling - The kind of song you want playing on the car stereo with the top down and the sun shining and the breeze flying through your hair and your best friends piled in. Or during a long cold winter night reminiscing about such days. A love song for their home state, "California Calling" is a very different track from the songs around it, but it holds its own in the middle of the album. A lot of love went into writing and recording this song and it shows.
5. Who the Hell - If any song on this album screams to one day be a single, it's this one. "Who the Hell" utilizes a brilliant orchestration to achieve a new level of intensity that does justice to angry-edged-but-self-affirming lyrics we can all relate to. The musical bridge is one of the best on the album, and would make for a great jam session in a concert setting. A strong testament to Alan Smithee's talent, if you only listen to one song on this album, make it this one.
6. How Does It Feel - The transition in the first thirty seconds of this track is one of my favorite parts of the song. It's simple and yet brilliant and a perfect fit for the song. Although the lyrics are angrier than "Who the Hell", the anger comes out more in the pure, raw intensity of the music and especially the vocals, dripping with emotions we have all felt. "How Does It Feel" is both a song you can enjoy musically, as well as the track that you want playing when you are screaming in frustration at the wall after a nasty breakup.
7. His Loving Way - By far the catchiest song on the album, this track always makes me want to get up and dance. It has such an upbeat tempo that just makes you want to move. As different as the tempo is for "His Loving Way", what is most impressive is that the music does not betray the strength of the lyrics. Rather they fit together extremely well, producing a song that will be insanely hard for you to get out of you head. But that is by no means a bad thing.
8. Did You Know - The perfect close for the album, "Did You Know" turns down the lights for an intimate vocal-driven ballad that serves as an in-record encore for the well-balanced set list of the previous seven tracks. Beautiful and captivating, this song exposes what lies at the heart of every Alan Smithee song and puts it on display in a raw performance that will surely have you ready to put this album on loop.
Having seen the band live first, I must admit that I was very worried that Wash Away, as a professionally-produced album, would betray the incredible power and energy that I had seen in their live performance. That could not be farther from the truth. Wash Away stands true to the Alan Smithee standard of live excellence and powerful music. This album is an incredible testament to what five talented musicians can do when they collaborate to create amazing music.
For more info, visit: http://www.whoisalansmithee.com
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