The Sounds of Change

Take Hold / Hopeless Records

This album is a re-issue; it was originally released a couple of years ago. These days, Stairwell is on the verge of bigger things. If you haven’t heard The Sounds of Change, it’s the kind of record that’s totally worth hearing, regardless of your musical allegiance.

While The Sounds of Change reminds me of several bands, including Jimmy Eat World, Weezer, Foo Fighters and the like, Stairwell concentrate on melodies and hooks more than they do blowing away the listener with “rockin'” chops. The guitars are recorded pristinely; they punch and hit with an incredible force that’s surprising, as they come off as “friendly fire” at first. The drums are tremendous, sounding as if they were recorded by “big drum” producers like J. Robbins or Steve Albini. The bass guitar is mildly overdriven and sounds terrific, but is hard to decipher without the aid of headphones. The vocalist has a whiney emo voice, but he can carry a tune well. The hooks are truly captivating, reminiscent of the hooks on Weezer’s blue album.

“All These Years” should have been a college radio hit when this album was first released. It creeps along a bassline and drumbeat that march to a stomping, jazzy cadence. The vocalist croons above in a half talked/half sung voice (think of Rivers Cuomo or the Dismemberment Plan’s Travis Morrison). The chorus explodes into a sticky and infectious conglomeration of all things poppy and wonderful. I can’t accurately describe the chorus, but it’s perfect, and Weezer fans will all crap their pants upon hearing just how sweet it is. No joke. This is the most memorable song I’ve heard, by any band of any genre, for the last few months.

What’s funny is that the album’s next song, “Walk All Over,” sounds like the soundtrack for a Rogaine commercial (picture the newly full-haired man swimming confidently with beautiful women on each side). The thing is, this band is so good that it doesn’t really matter how comical some of their songs are. If crappy bands like Saves The Day and Dashboard Confessional can be hugely popular, then it’s only fair that bands with actual talent deserve some recognition, as well. The Sounds of Change is the perfect album for the summertime!

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