Week 10 Review

This week I’m reviewing Punchline’s 2nd album: 37 Everywhere. I discovered this Pennsylvania-based pop punk band after listening to their single Not Afraid on some random emo sampler back in the day. 

Artist: Punchline {Steve Soboslai – vocals, Chris Fafalios – bass guitar, background vocals, Greg Wood – guitar, background vocals, PJ Caruso – drums}
Album: 37 Everywhere
Year: 2006
Genre: Pop Punk
Rating: 4.37/5

Worth Your Time? Of course!

Twitter Review: 37 Everywhere is a solid well-crafted pop punk album with a nice mix of intensely delivered dark topics and uplifting messages throughout.

Top 3 Tracks:

  1. Exactly
  2. Flashlight
  3. Green Light (the intro for this video is great)

Things to Look For:

  • Wonderful Writing. There’s actually a lot of clever lyrics using a combinations of metaphors and play on words.  I think the darkness described in Flashlight is actually talking about hitting rock bottom with drug addiction.  I believe the entire song is about the frustrations of dealing with a friend or loved one who is a drug addict.  In Don’t Try This At Home, it includes the lyrics “The backseat’s a dream when you’re just 18 but the dreams take a back seat so fast.” I think this perfectly alludes to the difference of your carefree late teen years when your parents are still shielding you from being an actual adult and the stark reality that hits you once you finally are on your own.  I think a lot of people gain a lot of respect for their parents once they become an adult. The entire songs compares growing up to a reality television show. The title even plays on a common TV phrase usually reserved for dangerous stunts by shows like Jackass but instead reserves it for something all of us eventually have to do one day which is learn how to survive on our own.  Caller 10, despite it’s upbeat tone for the majority of the song actually ends on a tragic down note questioning how much of falling in love is left up to fate and how much is our own responsibility.  Exactly covers a fairly introspective topic of the process of losing your energy and ideals of youth as you are absorbed into the compromised world of adults. It’s easy to write a pop punk song about always staying true to yourself and doing what you believe.  It’s a lot harder to capture what happens when that gets applied in the real world and the fallout that follows. Steve Soboslai is definitely a lyricist I respect.
  • Emotional Intensity.  I think the spoken word part found at the end of Exactly shows just how far these guys will go.  But even the background vocals of Green Light and lead singer’s delivery in Wars Will Always Happen convey the intensity that Punchline brings to the game.
  • Hooks, Riffs and Choruses. Punchline is more infectious than a room full of kindergarteners in late October.  It’s pretty hard not to sing and hum along after you listened to the songs a couple times.

Low Points: At 38 minutes, I wish the songs were a little longer or there were more songs but it’s about standard for pop punk albums.  I also noticed some song structures similarities but nothing even remotely close to what Staind does. Their more straight forward relationship songs are probably at the bottom of the list for me but even they still come with an incredibly catchy chorus.

Anything Else: The name of this album comes from some of the band members obsession with seeing the number 37 everywhere on a daily basis. They claim if you look, you will be surprised how much you find it.  Here’s a post of Chris Fafalios explaining it. To go along with seeing a certain number everywhere, I watched Joel Schumacher’s The Number 23 shortly after I bought this album.  It’s worth watching in the same way it’s worth watching Schumacher destroy the Batman franchise: so you can say you survived a Joel trainwreck.

Finally, the album is dedicated to John ‘Beatz’ Holan, Bayside’s drummer who unfortunately died in 2005.  He is mentioned by name in the song They Are Strong Hands which has a pretty intricate plot for a low budget music video.

Additional Links:

Week 5 Review

This week I’m reviewing my first album that I consider obscure. It’s not an internet sensation nor has it defined a decade. So let’s take a look at …Waltzing Alone by folk band Guggenheim Grotto.     

Artist: The Guggenheim Grotto {Shane Power (drums, piano), Mick Lynch (guitar, vocals), Kevin May (vocals, guitar)}
Album: …Waltzing Alone
Year: 2006
Genre: Folk-Pop
Rating: 3.75/5 Stars (5/5 Stars if you’re feeling introspective or heart broken)

Worth Your Time? If you’re in the right mood.

Twitter Review: …Waltzing Alone is like a finely aged scotch. You sip it slowly appreciating the individual flavors and smells that surround it.

Top 3 Tracks: 

  1. Wonderful Wizard
  2. Rosanna
  3. Philosophia

Things to Look For:

  • So many instruments. All three band members are multi-instrumentalists so there’s more going on here than your average album. You can tell they searched for that one instrument to give them the exact sound they were looking for.
  • Look ma, no drums! There’s quite a few tracks that do not not make heavy use of percussion.  Maybe that’s not special for folk music, but as your average listener it stood out to me while listening this week.
  • Craftsmanship. Obviously, these guys had more interest in creating gorgeous sounds for your mind to process than trying to appeal to the masses. I could see listening to this album with my co-workers $1000 headphones to appreciate all the little touches. (Yes he does actually let me borrow them at work from time to time.)
  • Is the Cake a lie? My wife says Wonderful Wizard sounds like a Cake song.  And I have to agree. They are one trumpet away from it being on Prolonging the Magic.

Low Points: There was actually one point in the chorus of the song I Think I Love You that infuriated me nearly every time I listened to it. He says “Hell I want to scream” but at no point does he ever raise his voice to anything close to a scream.  I guess I have the mind frame of show me/not tell me when it comes to writing and that chorus is nothing but tell.  But this album’s biggest downfall is that you really need to be in the right mood to appreciate it. Some of my favorite albums bring a mood to me and not the other way around so I think it deserved to lose some stars because of that. If you don’t agree I don’t care because yeah, well, you know, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

Anything Else: There’s something worth mentioning here outside of the music that makes this album worth owning like as in a physical copy kind of owning.  They really put incredible effort into the album’s packaging.  It’s basically a small book with red leather texture and silver embossed text.  That right there is pretty special since your average CD comes in a plastic jewel case that you’re never going to make any kind of connection with. If it cracked you would simply replace it with another one that looks exactly like it without ever giving it a second thought. In a word: disposable.

The liner notes begin with 5 pages worth of excerpts from an online discussion on a site dedicated to graphic design about the current state of CD packaging.  This is followed by the lyrics for each song with several illustrations related to the lyrics. Then it closes out with commentary by Shane, Mick and Kevin for each of the songs that brings insight into what was going on inside their heads such as that they were all heavily listening to Marvin Gaye when Vertigo was formed into being. You really don’t get this level of detail and discussion with your average album. Do yourself a favor and hunt down the CD rather than downloading the MP3s if you plan on getting this album.  I’ve included some pictures to help you visualize the awesomeness.


On a random note, my wife and I were at the concert where the Vertigo video I just linked to was recorded. We high tailed it up to Cleveland to see a They Might Be Giants concert where they performed Flood in it’s entirety. And that is where I first became acquainted with The Guggenheim Grotto and, like with most opening acts, I bought their album.

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