Reviews:: As Tall As Lions

When the new As Tall As Lions ended up in my mailbox, I was quick to shrug it off. Another ambient, emo band? Pass. After listening to the record I realized that this was the worst labeling since the photocopied cover on the Hi-C tape I bought back in the day. Doing it froggy style isn’t cool when the bootleg quality makes it sounds like Hi-C is rapping into a tin can.

Let’s start with this: ATAL is not emo. To be honest, I’m not sure if emo even counts as a genre anymore. It’s more like a cheap ploy to knock a band down without explaining why. “Dude, they suck. Total emo.”

The ambient aspect is right. The album starts with Daniel Nigro's vocals, some simple chimes and a gradual build up until the band surrounds you with sounds. The nice bass line and piano riff push the track into the chorus that is filled with fuzz and horns. The combination doesn’t sound like it should work, but it does. Despite the fact this is a NY based band, the vocals sound as UK as chips and tele. Song for Luna drifts into the Manic Street Preachers realm (especially with the dueling voices on the chorus) at times, but the musical accompaniment is far superior. Driving drums, well placed breakdowns, and layers... lots and lots of layers.

As A Break for a Pause starts, you can’t help but think about old Radiohead. For some reason, hearing a band labeled as ambient, you assume the songs are more background than anything else, but as you get immersed in this track, I find it hard to believe it would be something that wouldn't make you sit up and take notice.

I was enjoying the record, and at 1:32 of Ghost of New York, I was sold. Daniel’s voice on the chorus powers through the instruments and really takes a staring role; something he needs to do more often. The album does seem to meld together at points, but offers enough stand outs to keep you interested. Where Do I Stand closes the album beautifully. A gentle piano ballad and some computer sound effects accompany Nigro’s voice, until it explodes into a mix of almost adult contempory horns, fuzz, drums and everything else.

“I know I’m not good enough for you. If I can be saved, show me the way, help me help myself.”

I’m sure this band will land somewhere in the circle of the blog hatred. They have the ability to stand up and get noticed and without changing the music they play they could be radio friendly. They sound enough like Radiohead (but more like the Doves, although I might be one of the only people I know that really likes the Doves), to warrant a mention, but usually that also leads to the classic – “they aren’t the next Radiohead, so they shouldn’t try” type floggings. But if you take this band without any preconceived notions on how they are marketed or who they sound like, you’ll find yourself enjoying a great album.

MP3:: Ghost of York


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