Review : The Dangerous Summer - War Paint
SputnikmusicWhile many musicians require experimentation to keep them challenged and motivated, it is often over-emphasized to many bands detriment in the early stages of their career. The potential of recording the same album twice should only concern outfits who are lazy and/or looking to pander to the mainstream populous. In reality, natural growth and sensible refinement is often more than adequate in progressing from album to album, and that is exactly the method taken by Maryland quartet The Dangerous Summer on their second LP 'War Paint'.
In terms of refinement; it is most evident here in the form of the musicianship, especially the use of the dual guitar attack. Whereas the work of Cody Payne and Bryan Czap disappointingly took a back seat on predecessor 'Reach For The Sun', the lead guitar is especially prevalent on 'War Paint'. Beginning with a burst of energy, the opening title track is a good indicator of this, while the use of effects pedals to emphasize delay and reverb becomes more pronounced as the album progresses - reminding one of The Graduate's superb 2010 LP 'Only Every Time'. To this extent, an argument could be made that Paul Leavitt's production leans a little on the slick side, and could do with some extra diversity. 'War Paint' is undoubtedly a consistent album, but it may be too consistent, lacking a hook-filled true standout and excluding a genuine ballad for what would have been some welcome variety.
These perceived deficiencies put pressure on the aforementioned natural growth of The Dangerous Summer... Thankfully, they pass this test with flying colors, especially in relation to the extremely mature song-writing on offer. 'War Paint' may not be an album of 2011 contender, yet it challenges to be the most lyrically impressive, with numerous passages likely to strike a chord with listeners. If 'Reach For The Sun' posed questions which were open to interpretation, then 'War Paint' assuredly provides the answers. Moreover, there appears to be a realistic storyline arc in existence, further lending weight to the tales which are told. Captivating highlight 'Miscommunication' sounds like a free-flowing fly on the wall recording of a conversation, while the theme of self-discovery appears on the striking 'Parachute', the catchy 'Good Things', the emotional 'I Should Leave Right Now' and closer 'Waves'. It may best be communicated however on the title track, which offers:
"I was starting to shake from the days I’ve been up,
There’s a lot on my plate and the ones I loved stopped answering.
They left me to find myself in my own hate,
I work all alone with a cynical taste and the day I get out is the day I’ll be made".
"There wasn’t a trace of the war letting up and the days went on late.
I struggled and I fell to solid ground, it led me to my escape".
Of course, even the strongest of words can be wasted if they are not delivered with sincerity, heart and conviction - traits which front-man Andrew (AJ) Perdomo has in spades. With his distinctive, occasionally over-enunciating articulation reminding of Go Radio's Jason Lancaster, Perdomo is continuously honest and relatable, making a consistent connection with the undeniably personal subject matter. On rare occasions, his tone can feel a little over-bearing and could do with the use of an almost gimmicky gang or backing vocal, but as 'Work In Progress' proves, Perdomo is able to alter his range when the situation requires it. So while 'War Paint' is far from a perfect release, it's imperfections are - in a sense - exciting, since The Dangerous Summer have already proven that they do not require substantial experimentation in order to progress. Some sensible refinement here, and a little natural growth there, and album number three could very well be the classic the band seem capable of....full text
BringonmixedreviewsDelivering one of (if not the) best album of 2009, Ellicott City, MD four-piece The Dangerous Summer‘s impacting rock album “Reach For The Sun” was a welcome surprise two years ago — which not only bolstered my faith in what I considered a stagnate genre, but also supplied some of the most honest lyricism and moving music that’s been recorded in a long time. All that said, when the groups new album “War Paint” was announced and its first single “Good Things” premiered in all of its HD lyric-video glory, time couldn’t pass fast enough till its scheduled release of July 19th, and a chance to hear it. If I could be sure of anything though, it was that The Dangerous Summer was sure to impart a wonderful piece of their evolving experience that we have all come to know and cherish.
As its apt title suggests, “War Paint,” is an effort that takes a deviation from the bands previous songs of romanticizing and inspiration, and instead chooses to delve into the conflicts in and solitude created from relationships. Of which a transparent paradigm-shift in AJ’s lyrics is easily noticed, trading memorable enchanting one-liners for emotionally pulling, burden-baring, words of caution and eventual solemn self discovery. Songs like “War Paint,” “And the ones i loved stopped answering. They left me to find my self. In my own hate. I work all alone with a cynical taste. And the day I get out, is the day I’ll be made.” and the illusion-free words of “Parachute,” “I feel it coming on, I parachute alone. I’m a life that’s not worth saving. It’s apparent I won’t slow down yet. I take control of that feeling you don’t care to believe in,” really paint a palpable emotional picture of the bands recent mindset. Despite the bands temperamental switch though, The Dangerous Summer still delivers fans, and new-comers alike, with one of the most compelling, and more importantly, honest, look into the dark places we don’t like to admit we take our bonds.
Musically, “War Paint” yo-yo’s between the bands traditional, visceral, and building alternative rock — filled with a pedal tray of guitar effects and AJ’s roughly passionate vocal belting and poetic whispers — and a rather unusual skippy, pop punk-tinged, rock with chipper guitars and quick percussion, a dichotomy that leaves for wonderful singles but a sometimes awkward straight-through listen. As the powerfully moving, self identifying song “Work In Progress” (acting as the albums best track – in a three-way tie with “Good Things” and “Waves”) gives such an exhaustingly pleasing performance, that it’s almost a shame that “No One’s Gonna Need You More” follows the serious track’s reverbed, heavy-breathing outro with such an upbeat set of instrumentation. Even with that though, every song has its own striking personality, ranging from brightly optimistic, “Good Things,” to the open conversation in the argumentative track, “Miscommunication,” and lastly reconciliation and progressing thoughts on “Waves;” all of which give such an intriguing and profound character to the record that is leagues ahead of what current artists are birthing now-a-days....full text
PupfreshIt’s no doubt that The Dangerous Summer is a pretty well known band. Whether you love them because of their talent and how their albums click with you, or the only reason you know who they are is because of guitarist, Cody Payne’s, notable antics. In 2009, the band released their debut full-length album Reach For the Sun which was a favorite record of many and had a huge emotional attachment to many because of AJ Perdomo’s honest, close-to-home lyrics. With such a huge debut into the scene, many fans wondered how they could possibly follow up to such a record. Luckily, the band didn’t change them selves at all to make them more popular. They just used the natural growth the 3 years from Sun to now to make the new album, War Paint.
From the immediate start of War Paint, it is apparent that the band has, for lack of a better word, matured. All of the tracks sound like nothing you would expect from The Dangerous Summer, with them having a more full, uplifting sound that wasn’t used much on Reach For the Sun. That being said, the lyrical style and content throughout the entire album hasn’t changed at all. It’s gotten better, as it should, but they have the same feel they did from the prior album. Along with a mature sound, the band has also become more diverse in their song makeup. It’s obvious that the last album was very rhythm guitar lead, but on War Paint there is more emphasis on the lead guitar part which is a huge redeeming quality and an aspect of the record that doesn’t make it “Reach For the Sun Part 2.”
Many worshippers of the last album might feel a little bit of disappointment the first time they listen to this record because the songs sound so different from the last album. War Paint may take some time for people to really latch onto, but for others who maybe didn’t click with RFTS will find this album fantastic. Songs like “No One’s Gonna Need You More,” “Miscommunication,” “Parachute,” and “Waves” are going to be immediate fan favorites while the CD’s more emotional songs like the previously released song “Good Things,” which presents a longing for positivity to the distressed lyrics of “I Should Leave Right Now” (And I’m kneeling distraught / I will always feel there’s something gone. / I’m belittled but I find it wrong) are going to take some time to grow on listeners. Undoubtedly, this record will hit every emotion you have and draw from it until the album is finished. ...full text
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