First off, big up to my girl Denise V. for giving me the heads up on this album last week so that I could dissect it (and let it be known, I take album requests regularly, so don't be shy) for review this week. I actually first heard about Manchester Orchestra from my dun Joe L. at work, so big up to him as well.
Anywho, for those of you not in the know, Manchester Orchestra is not an orchestra at all. At least not in the way you're thinking. They are in fact a 5 piece outfit hailing from the durty city of Hotlanta, aka ATL, aka the A (or just plain Atlanta if you're nasty). Known at first for its mellow indie rock sounds on the 2007 album I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child, their second studio album, the boys from the A are filling your speakers with a little more pizazz and energy that before.
Front man Andy Hull took off his senior year of high school to be home schooled, to further develop his craft, and it shined every so bright when that 2007 album dropped. The band earned a decent recognition in the music world, and got signed to Canvasback Recordings soon after their first commercial success.
Jeremiah Edmond has the heavy foot on the bass kick playing the drums, Chris Freeman tickles the ivory ever so epically, with Jonathan Corley laying down the smooth grooves on the bass. Andy plays the guitar whilst singing, but the lead axe is the warrior known as Robert McDowell. At the best part about this album, is the play at their versatility. I'm Like a Virgin was great (Where Have You Been was my jam), but quite soft. The latest thought, Mean Everything to Nothing, is a healthy move for the band. Don't let Andy's lighter sounding voice fool you, the man has a scream on him.
The mood is set right away with the opening track, The Only One, which basically lies out that he's not the innocent guy you'd expect the son of a pastor to be. It feels like this is one of the main tones of the album. Our expectations of one another and breaking free of the ignorance that appearance of another's life doesn't always reflect the reality. A pastors son has issues (apparently father ones) too.
If I am interpreting correctly, track 10, Everything to Nothing is a love song (via note in gpa's coat pocket) about Andy's grandfather to his grandmother. And while not word for word, it encompasses the idea of a man who is lost, and the only person who understands him is the person he's writing to. Grandma is having a hard time letting go of something (which is only alluded to), to which Grandpa reminds her not to worry about it, and that she means everything to nobody but him. The concept seems very original through its allusion, if it is in fact interpreted correctly here. Hint: I'm always right.
The second track, Shake It Out, was one of my favorite for its catchy bridge. The double iteration of "Are you tired of being alone?" got stuck in my head all morning while finishing this review, and adds to the theme of breaking out and making life happen, instead of sitting around feeling sorry for yourself.
Another heavy (theme wise) song is track 3, I've Got Friends. This one ranks as my favorite of the release. If you've felt used by so called friends, to be their leaning shoulder, then this song is for you. Being the shoulder, but not having one to cry on from them is the basic idea. Good thing I'm too badass to cry on your shoulder...or even cry in general. Listen for the sick breakdown at 2:58, as this got it on my top track list.
From afar, this album is a large take from their last album as I said before. But I think that applies to the instrumentals, because the lyrics are still well conceived and original as those featured on I'm Like a Virgin Losing a Child. I feel an album like this is going to make a killing in the indie world. All you old fans out there don't fret, as the boys from the A are still every bit as awesome. Just understand that they are spreading their wings a little to encompass more fans with this bold album. The album was released today, so go cop it and find out for yourself.
Don't be surprised when you see Manchester Orchestra on the Coachella lineup next year...speaking of which, stay tuned for the first installment of my Coachella 2009 review.
Until next time my friends,