Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Backslashes and Bad Ideas Album Review for 'Nothing Left to Give'

Backslashes and Bad Ideas are a pop-punk/post-hardcore band in vein of You're Favorite Weapon Brand New and Tell All Your Friends Taking Back Sunday with a dash of Fall Out Boy and Moving Mountains.

*At various points in time, and sometimes even all at once, they have extraordinary beards of lumberjackian (word?) proportions. 

The band, made up of musicians from different prominent or at once prominent Staten Island bands, found themselves a home together where they can showcase their assorted backgrounds.

The members:
Nick DePalo - vocals/guitar (formerly of Cobalt Sky and numerous side projects)
Josh Cronopulos - Guitar/background vocals (formerly It's Not Over)
Ed Mone - Drums (also bassist in When All Else Fails)
Nick Colella - Bass (also bassist in Heroes)

Now for the nitty gritty...the review.

These guys do a fantastic job of playing their style of music. It's easy to tell who they are inspired by (see above), and they do each one of those bands justice. DePalo's songwriting ability combined with his emotionally driven, distinct and clearly determined voice add a lot of power and passion to these songs. You can almost feel what was going on in his head as the songs play out like short narratives.

The first track, "London," is a Nick DePalo special and a former Cobalt Sky favorite. However, the 2012 updated version sounds much better than any previous recording, and Josh's background vocals add another layer to the song that makes it just right. Probably the most single worthy track of the EP because of its catchy chorus and uptempo pace. The song deals with love leaving, and learning to ultimately let them go.

"Thoughts Became Things," has a slower pace and that narrative feel previously talked about. "You say words can only complicate/I tried harder than you ever could," are repeated at different times during the song and prove to make this an anthem for young adults. While the lyrics are not particularly telling of what the song is about, the vagueness opens the listener up for a number of interpretations and scenarios. There is a lot happening in this song and the best part is it's up to you to find your own meaning. Within the context of the album however, it shows the struggle of lovers trying to work themselves out of the same old pattern of their relationship. Also, the chorus sounds chillingly spot on like Brand New.

The next track, "Nothing Left to Give," is a nice little divider of the album, and invokes its own little emotion in 55 seconds.

"What Would Craig Robinson Do?" doesn't answer this question or tell you of the hilarious things he does in movies, but rather pushes some of the things discussed in the previous song. "Trying harder" and "complicating things" now flips the script as far as who does what, "I tried harder than you ever knew" now becomes, "You try too much." It appears the protagonist is desperately trying to rectify his relationship, "Don't underestimate me." "Nothing Left to Give" is now a perfect space between how the vocalist was feeling and how he is feeling now. Nice transition whether intentional or not.

Rounding out the EP is "Phoenix with an F." The more "ballad" like song for Backslashes has the most going on lyrically and ends the album in a big way. It puts a cap on the unraveling tale of the relationship that developed in the four previous tracks.

New themes are introduced: forgiveness, responsibility, failure, honesty, and mistakes. This "character" seems to open his heart to allow their lover back in as a last ditch effort to salvage what is left, but at the same time agreeing that maybe leaving (to London perhaps?) might be the best thing for both. "And I can't make an honest girl of you/If you're out there living my dreams/And I can't take you on that stage with me /So I won't blame you if at any point you decide/It might be best to leave."

Great ending, and honestly wish there was more. A solid first effort for Backslashes and Bad Ideas who showcased a well recorded project with tight driven drums, catchy guitar riffs and hooks, and tempo throbbing bass. Maybe the review went too deep, maybe it's spot on, maybe everything is dead wrong. Listen for yourself and figure it out, and get a free download before they are gone.


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