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Friday, April 24, 2009

Great Buildings - Apart From The Crowd

Name: Great Buildings
Album: Apart From the Crowd
Year: 1981
Style: Power Pop
Similar Bands: Rembrandts, Journey, Outfield, REO Speedwagon, Big Star, Wings
"One-word" Review: above-average-generic-power-pop
Based Out Of: Los Angeles, CA
Label: Columbia, CBS Inc
Apart From The Crowd - Cover & Lyrics
Apart From The Crowd- Back & Sleeve
Apart From The Crowd - Record
Apart From The Crowd (1981)
  1. Hold On to Something 3:46
  2. ...and the Light Goes On 3:15
  3. Dream That Never Dies 3:42
  4. Combat Zone 3:34
  5. Maybe It's You 5:07/
  6. One Way Out 3:38
  7. Another Day in My Life 3:09
  8. Heartbreak 4:42
  9. Love Goes Blind 3:53
  10. Apart from the Crowd 5:11
Album Rating (1-10): 8.0

Members & Other Bands:
Danny Wilde - Vox, Guitar, Percussion, Keys, Harmonica (the Rembrandts, the Quick)
Richard Sanford - Drums, Percussion
Philip Solem - Guitar, Vox (the Rembrandts, Loose Change, Android)
Ian Ainsworth - Bass, Keys, Vox (the Quick)
Ed E. Thacker - Producer, Recorded
John Boylan - Producer
Paul Grupp - Engineered
Brad Gilderman - Asst. Engineer
Brian Reeves - Asst. Engineer
Ed Cherney - Asst. Engineer
Phil Jamtaas - Asst. Engineer
Wally Traugott - Mastering
Weldon Anderson - Photography
Tony Lane - Visual Coordination
Partick M. - Deanna's Hair & Make-up
Lisa Schulze - Deanna's Hair & Make-up
Roxanne Rifken - Inner Sleeve Photography
David Harper - Direction

Unknown-ness: I’ve never heard of these guys. But, with the “Robert Palmer” girl on the front in clone copies and her leg wrapping around to the back cover with the band in situational postures, it seems like another band in the long line of new wave/power pop generic bands. But it could be great. That’s why I take the repetitive chance on albums that look like this. The song titles are also generic, where they don’t scream jittery new wave, and they do not all ridiculously reference love. Their picture on the inside sleeve shows promise of energetic passion, but again, this is hidden on the inside sleeve.

Album Review:
So, after doing some research, this band later became the Rembrandts, pending such hits as that theme song from friends. With that in mind, I begin the album with “Hold On to Something.” Power pop it is. The song starts off with a jolt of drums and guitars. The music could lend itself to jittery nasally vocals, but the vocals are smooth, and multi-layered; somewhat like Journey in the chorus (I think I use Journey as a reference band too much. I need to find some others). It has a nice build up to the chorus, but the chorus is not quite as strong or catchy as I was anticipating. An electric, near-metal guitar solo fills the bridge. It is a driving song, and carries the energy through to the ending fade-out. “...and the Light Goes On” continues the high-energy, soft rock vocals paradox. The harmonized, layered vocals come off like Big Star, and the bridge into the chorus is a drums and vocals only momentum freeze-frame. It is very repetitive, a little too much so. “Dream That Never Dies” has a solid power harmonic chorus, but the verse does not create much interest and falls a little flat getting there. They mix it up a bit in the ending, but come back to the super-repetitive song structure that lasts a little too long. “Combat Zone” has a thick sounding drum intro, and a jerky single chord guitar repetition. Then the verse begins, and the song loses the momentum it built up in the intro. It tries to get it back in a typical power pop hierarchy chord changing progression. They even include minor elements trying to give it a western gun fighter feel, but too little is not enough. The instrumental bridge is reminiscent of a video game, specifically a Mega Man level...it is very driving and progressively gets more intense. You can actually almost hear the Rembrandts hit song in the beginning of “Maybe It's You,” but the vocals start and it sounds like a driving, dance when your angry inspired song (like in Footloose). I can feel the rushed and jittery mood in the music, but the vocals just don’t know how to capture that feeling. Just when you think the song is over, it continues with a harmonica for another minute, and a reprisal of the chorus repeated over and over.

“One Way Out” begins like a grand, theatrical head banging ballad. The chorus’s melody is pretty good, a swaying, slow banging drinkers salute to suicide. Perhaps not suicide, but it is performed as if from an inescapable pit. Oh, and the lead guitarist is also in the pit to play out the sorrows through music on a metal guitar. The harmonizing vocals in the background lift the singer and guitarist out of the pit by the songs end, where it feels like a positive conclusion has been reached. “Another Day in My Life” begins with a catchy double layered vocal. And the vocals continue into the chorus. This is a solid song, carrying the momentum all the way through. It is smooth, but aggressive; catchy, but not too repetitive. It soars through the transitional music sections, but they are short enough to not drag on, and plentiful enough to not be stale. Even the guitar solo is not metal, but more jangely and doesn’t rely on repeating a tedious lick. “Heartbreak” is a dark & dirty bluesy song. It is sung with more true (non-produced) vocals than I’ve heard on the album yet. It almost sounds like a different singer. For a brief second, it takes off into a little fast energetic section, but it returns to a countrified rock song. The tempo picks up and retreats like a rollercoaster, mostly on the fast-paced country genre, but it feels a little long. It ends in a very barroom bluesy band. “Love Goes Blind” starts with just quiet vocals and a jangle guitar. The vocals pick up in energy and the song dips its metaphoric foot into country power pop. It goes in and out, leaving itself in for more time with each return. It continues along this path and eventually balances out between the two tempos with a generic middle ground. “Apart from the Crowd” has a driving drum beat and simple rhythm guitar chords to start off. The harmonizing vocals take over as the lead vocal entity, especially in the chorus. Musically, it possesses a very fun musical section in the bridge between the verse and chorus. But the over all lengthy composition seems sloppy and chaotically built around the weakest musical parts. It has a long fade out, but really, over all, this is a solid album.

Stand Out Track: Another Day In My Life

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