Welcome to the musical meandering insights of Aaron Joy. 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 or band is unique in some way & not every submission was reviewed. 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) (last update 5/23/2017)

January 29, 2013

The Maine ~ Pioneer

(Click on heading to visit official website.)
Style: emo, alt rock, pop rock
Label: Action Theory
Year: 2011
Home: Arizona

Members: John O'Callaghan ~ vocals/guitar
Kennedy Brock ~ rhythm guitar/b. vocals
Jared Monaco ~ lead guitar
Patrick Kirch ~ drums
Garrett Nickelsen ~ bass

Additional: Sean Alvarez ~ piano

Those that read this blog know I have issues with young bands like the Maine. Not necessarily because more often than not the bands are horrible musicians who can't sing or write songs. Not because they have horrible Justin Bieber haircuts that don't give their mass of tattoos any street credibility. Not because they look like they're never kissed a girl in their life, even if they sing about the babe they banged last night. Not because too many of these young fresh fellows out of high school ... or some cynics might say pampers ... are bland as bland can get & more predictable than knowing how Graham Bonnett is going to sing on his next albums. Every generation has its bland bands & there's more of those in the ring then the unique ones we iconize, if you want to be honest. We just forget about most of the bland ones until some blogger who has no life shows us his priceless collection of bad 80's cock rock. No, I think I have issues with these young upstarts of the poppy-emo-alt rock mode because they are presenting music that I at my senior citizen age of 35 can't relate to anymore. It's not that they're too young - how old were the Stones when they started? - it's I'm too old. Rock music isn't for the young, as some older folks I know like to believe & why listening to loud guitars is just a brief nostalgia game for them & are shocked when they hear Robert Plant has more solo albums than Zeppelin studio albums & that they're very successful, but a lot of the bands out there are focused on a particular generation, lifestyle, age range. That's not a bad thing. Though, would someone tell Mick Jagger he can no longer sing the same gettin' it on songs he could 40 years ago? While my fav Alice Cooper is pushing it singing about summer vacation & being 18 when he's double my age, God love him for it though. Okay, when I was young hard rock bands were singing songs that were just as shallow as any of these new bands, though with better & longer guitar solos & bigger hair. So, I can't say I don't like shallow music. Danger Danger, anyone? But, as I've gotten older I've also found myself listening to them less. I want to hear Eminem charging against his demons, I want the serious stories of Trans-Siberian Orchestra in addition. I want a message more often than not. So, I'm not gravitating to just the fun kick around music anymore as much anymore & that's what I hear out of these young bands. But, I haven't given up on them. I don't ignore them as I know a lot of folks older than me do quite deliberately & arrogantly. So, I must struggle to reconnect with that side of me that grew up or grew away in order to be fair to these ands. I can't always & sometimes the music doesn't bring the lonely teenager out of me. But, reallly, I don't want to get younger any more than I want the gray hair I like to pull out or keep my hair long to deliberately cover it up. I'm resistant, but I know it. To give these young bucks a chance I have to find a bridge between me & them. It's tough. Though, that's how you approach any music you don't know really. You don't like or know jazz? Okay, let me play some jazz-rock that is a little bit new & a little bit familiar & that will be our bridge & then we'll go from there a further step away from the familiar. I'll call a band bland because I feel they are as I've heard their sound before & they're not adding to the genre, but I struggle calling them bland just because they don't sound like a band I grew up or just because they're young bucks right off the boat. We were all young bucks right off the boat one day ... except for Keith Richards, he was always old (not really, but how easy we forget). It's thus almost ironic the Maine open their album Pioneer, a great name by the way in ts simplicity, with the song "Identify". & what's even more ironic, or maybe the better word is shocking, is that the song feels & sounds far older in its theme than the feeling I get from the band just looking at press releases & seeing one more young buck band that I can't identify with. Could I have stumbled upon the exception to the rule, to one of those young rare bands that I've looking for? A young band with something other than angry young man in love songs poorly executed? Could I be wrong about all this new poppy-emo-alt rock-Bieber haircut music? No, I don't think so ... but I think the Maine is the exception to the rule, the Dulcinea in my Quixotic quest, the reason I didn't give up the search. What makes the Maine jump the wall to me? I don't know really. Something in their feeling. It doesn't feel out the door like so many of their peers. It feels mature. It feels like they listen to music that's an array of things & when they say they are trying to copy the spirit of bands they grew up with its more than just an over-used PR statement - they really do. Though, the generic heard it before aspect does hit on a few tracks that are too imitative (i.e. "Misery", "Jenny", "Like We Did (Windows Down)", "Some Days") losing the personal charisma that opens the album, let alone many just sound too undistinct from the songs around them. Too many songs sound like they could have come from Pearl Jam or whoever, this isn't bad though it makes the album feel a bit long & repetative, but the Maine will get their identify cleared up before long I believe & solve this problem. This is only their third album. They're still growing, but they're a lot farther along than many of their peers. They don't sound like they're fresh off the boat. Give them a good producer & I think wonders could happen. If they play their cards right a great album is in their future, while many of their peers are still hunting for a good album. My advice? Let it all hang out! & work on the lyrics. They're catchy, but when reading them I struggled to really figure some of them out as they're a bit vague in their focus. Okay, that's being poetic, but you can't make everything vague. Even Eddie Vedder & Michael Stipe have moments of clarity & it keeps the vagueness being artistic & not just a game of poetic chance. I mean, in "Identify" I have no idea what I'm supposed to identify with. I'm sorry, but is this a case of identity theft? Though, it took me a few listens before I realized I had no clue what I was really hearing as the songs are catchy, addictive & have great choruses & the hooks underneath them strong. At least it's closer to poetry than some of the bland girl-me-you-sex-now songs some of my favorite 80's bands embarressed themselves with. Danger Danger, anyone? I can confess that. & at least nobody here is screaming or trying to sing beyond their ability. That helps a lot. I can ignore the vagueness when the rest of the pieces to making a good song are in place. This is where a good producer can come into play & where that great album is going to happen. & I can see the Maine as being a middle-aged band with something to say. Check out "Waiting For My Sun To Shine" with its bluesy solo & I think you'll see that the pieces are there already. This is a band this is really aiming for music that survives just the current trend. Most of their peers I can't see being around for long or about as long as their haircuts remain trendy. The Maine are the exception & the potential of the future. Pioneer was reissued with six new tracks under the name Pioneer & the Good Love. Oh, I must confess I grabbed this band because I was born in Maine, as I said I have trouble with these new bands.

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