2 February 2014

A Day To Remember - Common Courtesy

"Rock's not dead, but you might be killing it." I'm usually disinterested in sensationalist headlines looking to make an impact as hard as The Sun's "Freddie Starr Ate My Hamster", but this one certainly made me raise one eyebrow a la Spock with much intrigue. So many rock acts out there yet several feelers are firing off warning flares that this branch of music is a dying art. So what's the hubbub and is there real cause for concern? Team Rock Radio presenter and blogger Terry Bezer believes the reasons behind the shout of terrible forebodings are justified. Here's one of his findings,

The way we find bands these days - through sharing it on social media or something like a post on the Team Rock Radio website - is inextricably linked to their image. Is the fact people get to SEE a band before they HEAR them is hampering the bands of today? (Let's face it: the bands of today are a bit prettier than the bands of yesteryear. Robb Flynn of Machine Head had Black Veil Brides as one his albums of 2013. He heard them on the radio. He couldn't believe the band he'd dismissed through their look turned out to be a band he could actually love.)

The other problem he mentions is that Green Day's excellent album Dookie is now 20 years old here on 2014, showing how long it's been since Basket Case and When I Come Around were brought to our ears. It's brought home to me that these days it takes a decade before a rock tune like the above are considered classics whereas 10 years earlier Judas Priest and Deep Purple were prolific in churning out one strong album after another.

So with this in mind, these same feelers are pointing out that metalcore is the genre that could save rock as a whole, for example, clean vocals working alongside the mandatory growls and deep rooted riffs that can trace its roots back to the late 1980s. A Day To Remember aren't the best dressed outfit around, in fact, it's rather like Oasis where the entire wardrobe staff had been sacked and appearance-wise they haven't really bothered. But let me remind you of Mr. Bezer's point that image is nothing and the music really is everything without the bullshit proclamations that everybody's bigger than God.

A Day To Remember since its conception in Florida have been in the rat race for ten years now and fuse their differing tastes of pop, punk and metalcore all into the same fold. There's five albums to their credit and their fifth, Common Courtesy is the first material I've heard by them. It's also one they've launched without a label, which says a lot for the cottage industry which we don't see much today. as well as giving the bird to Victory records. Ocala is the opening track named after the band's hometown, and has all the heady power chorded rhythm layered with snarls although the clean vocals are the main course here, likewise in the single release, Right Back At It Again with Jeremy McKinnon shouting "BRACE FOR IMPACT!". There's also evidence that their songwriting is taking an unique direction in Sometimes You're The Hammer, Sometimes You're The Nail, with clear repetition in the chorus, brief respite in the bridge, and in Same Book But Never The Same Page. It's less metal and more rock, very melodic and a departure from their Megadeth/Slayer loves until the last minute.

Things take a more mellowing tone in I'm Already Gone, and some kookily harmonies there. Oh er...Still, the metal order returns with Violence (Enough Is Enough) with from fade riffs and typically charged growls with clean vocals taking up the chorus. Life @ 11 is very Foo Fighter material although McKinnon still seems like an understudy to Mr Grohl, it's possibly the most pop-ish tune on Common Courtesy, followed by the acoustic laden I Surrender. Not too well struck on it I must admit, but sometimes an 'F' chord has to softsoap what is a unapologetically metal album. Once again, we return to the darkside with the brief but violent Life Lessons Learnt The Hard Way which "borrows" a Slipknot signature pick-across-the-frets, while The Document Speaks For Itself is a thinly disguised stab at their parent label, Victory. Thirteenth and final tune I Remember is the last rock-ish tune and minus the metal, but the final five minutes of the nine minute opus is needless. All members just idly chatting about, the recording button clearly wasn't switched off then!

What Spotify hasn't highlighted is that while it has 16 songs on the list, the last three are bonus tracks, taking the whole album past the hour mark, Leave All The Lights On, Good Times, and Same Book But Never The Same Page. At the very least Good Charlotte-esque pop-punk fillers and a reasonably concerted offering on the whole. And my thoughts on Common Courtesy? Well, my only slight criticism is the lack of storytelling in the entire album. Nevertheless, a plausible effort from my perspective, and while it's the first time I've heard A Day To Remember, the impression I get is that they've put in their strongest effort here compared to their previous releases.

Going back to my original point, if Rock as a musical brand is not to be a fading art, then I think the best advice I can give to the listener is exactly that. Listen. And don't make judgements on how they look, you know, the old book/cover adage because there are some radio stations that champion the cause of preventing the listening nation from being swamped by the X-Factor/Bauer Media crap. And there's certainly plenty of organic acts out in the big blue yonder that aren't so manufactured and can actually play their own instruments and write their own songs. It just takes a smidgen of courage to branch out and listen out to what's on offer.

8.5 out of ten. Oh, now you have my attention, and maybe my money, time and heart.
Best track : Right Back At It Again

A Day To Remember Official Website on this link
Listen to Common Courtesy here on Spotify
Buy the album here on Amazon

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