Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy, aka the Joyful Gadfly! Musician, podcaster, writer, historian ... here you'll find 600 reviews of CDs & DVDs of rock & metal in all its variations, mainstream & indie. What they all share is that the album is unique in some way. Please share these reviews or link to them if you like what you read. Reviews are no longer being posted here but feel free to e-mail Aaron & post comments. (Formerly the Roman Midnight Music Blog)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Airborne Toxic Event ~ All At Once


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Style: alt rock, pop
Label: Island Records
Year: 2011
Home: Los Angeles, California

Members: Mikel Jollett ~ vocals/rhythm guitar/keyboards
Steven Chen ~ lead guitar/keyboards
Anna Bulbrook ~ keyboards/viola/b. vocals
Noah Harmon ~ bass
Daren Taylor ~ drums


On one hand there's nothing particularly unique about the ATE, as one can clearly hear in them U2 meets something akin to the Arctic Monkeys meets some 80's New Wave a la Crowded House, on the other hand the rolling drums of opener "All At Once" & thumping bassline of "Numb" are hard not to immediately enjoy. It's just fun music in the realm of alt rock that goes for corners of rounded pop over rough punk. The problem is that this second album by ATE starts strong, it may not be original but it's interesting, then decides to go experimental by trying to cover too many bases with even less original success. The resulting songs not just go by too fast, but sound incomplete both lyrically & musically & thus never achieves any great highs beyond a few moments. One can find Bob Dylan-esque folk, country, a bit of the Cure & more than enough U2, but without the depth of any of them. By the time the band returns to the bumbly rhythms that open the album not just is the cohesiveness gone but so is the energy & the album ends with a whimper. Listen through & save the songs you like, which will probably be but a handful when you seriously consider what you'll like more than in this moment, & let the rest go back to the abyss. This is one of the few times I don't recommend experimentation & instead tell the band to stay with the sound they do well & leave the rest for a future EP.


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