Thursday, April 4, 2013

Uncle Carl Was Right, They'll Break Your Heart

Real life has been a total pain in my arse since the new year. Regardless of that fact, I have been able to keep up with band news, flipping my respective wig whenever something happens, as usual (don't look at me like that, we all know you do it, too). This story is going to involve a lot of wig flipping. A. Lot. Don't say I didn't warn you.
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Do we all remember that Tim Lopez dating show thing that was announced last year? Yeah, well, that was originally set to air a super-dee-duper preview episode on March 26th, and premier March 31st. In the wake of Bachelor Monday, I have been semi-looking forward to this travesty rip-off that NBC is going to force me to sit and watch every Tuesday because they are preying on both my reality dating AND band habits. Those bastards. Just as I was planning what I have referred to as the "Tim Tuesday" menu, they pull the March dates, and replace them with an April 9th premier. I thought it was a bit odd, and it didn't seem like it was a well planned out idea, but figured the Tim Tuesday meal could be put off, and I'd just use up my aubergines elsewhere (and they were fabulous in a spicy tomato sauce with an onion and garlic saute). I didn't think anything about any of this on March 29th as I checked the Plain White T's twitter feed to find a link to this video...

Hang on, hang on, just one cotton pickin' minute here, slim. Did that thing say EP? Are you telling me that we've waited over two years to hear anything original, and we're getting a bloody EP? Come on, we all know that Frankenweenie thing they did doesn't count (I felt like they kind of held back on their cover of Pet Sematary, but that's just me). And, wait, hold on, did that say April 9? Hmmm, I kind of get the feeling that something else is happening on that day, but I can't remember what. I swear, it took me ten minutes to figure out that the release of "Should've Gone to Bed" coincides with the premier of Ready for Love.
Let that sink in for a second.

Are we good? OK.

I mean, on a personal level, I've always thought that their post-"Delilah" career has been incredibly commercial (fifteen bucks a head for after show meet and greets that most bands in their genre just do for the hell of it without tables, out by the buses [you know, through chain link fences, while being arrested, that kind of thing] being the most valid instance), and this is another good example of that. Mind you, I'm all for taking advantage of a situation -- free enterprise, anyone? -- but it just doesn't feel right to me. Sue me. I have been grumbling about this since I figured out April 9th is going to be a commercial extravaganza.

Moving on.
So, on Monday, this hit the Interwebbing...
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along with the EP art...
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and the announcement that the song would premier the next day on satellite radio.

Tuesday morning dawned, and I headed to YouTube to find out what this EP is sounding like. I was home by myself at the time, so I plugged the Bose in, and turned it up loud. That is, I turned this up loud...

After realizing the stream of unseemly obscenities flowing freely from me in the silence that followed, my brain started processing what it had just heard. To be honest, it didn't really know where to start, but the first thing I thought of was that version of "Kiss Me Again" that had Alex Gaskarth in it. All of the fans were excited to hear him on it, but were incredibly disappointed when it was released; his portion was auto-tuned so heavily that it sounded like it was recorded on a tour bus -- probably because it was recorded on a tour bus. The point is, Mr. Gaskarth doesn't need an ounce of auto-tune; I have heard his voice without it, and it's like a little choir of angels in a field of the first snowdrops of Spring's bloom. Or something.

Tom Higgenson's voice is somewhat similar. I know that sixteen year old me took him seriously when he said to listen to his voice in that mega hit; little sixteen year old me fell in fangirl love with it, too. That sixteen year old me bubbled up to the surface when we saw the T's in Dallas. There was a point where the audio went completely out, except Mr. Higgenson's vocal microphone. As a tech ran frantically backstage to get another acoustic guitar, he sang "Delilah" a capella. It was a beautiful moment for me, and reminded me of what I love about music; how that voice sang me through tough nights until the dawn, the unfinished manuscripts, the finished manuscript, the scenes flashing past the backseat car window, and the darkness I allowed precious few others to shine light on. In this new single, that's the voice that's been auto-tuned so heavily I couldn't recognize it. And, for a second, my brain stopped working to let my fangirl heart break a little bit.

Then, I started thinking about the electronic beats (personally, I have always abhorred electronic drums), and whatever else was in there covering up the guitars-bass-drums formula they've had since before Stop was released. What in hell is going on with that? The final straw was when I read a comment saying something along the lines of "dis soundz lyke sumtin one direction wud do, hurr hurr" that I knew I wasn't alone in thinking that something had happened. In the wake of the release, I have considered several scenarios: simple change in sound (which seems unlikely after how Big Bad World and Wonders of the Younger turned out); influence from producers (two words: Hugh Padgham); the old sell out standby; and, most horrible of all, major-label influence (have you ever seen Anthem for a Dying Breed? You should).

Now, I know that I tend to really hate new material when it comes out, and I take a little bit to warm up to it (Memory Almost Full, can you ever forgive my doubt?); I thought that might be my problem. That is, until I heard something that changed my mind. Yesterday morning, the band stopped by their hometown radio station to do a live version of the single.

That's the Plain White T's I know, dammit. You can hear the harmonies, the guitars, even a little bit of bass from Mr. Retondo, and fantastic percussion from Mr. Hamilton. In short, you can hear the talent; it's evident that there's craftsmanship when there isn't so much electronic bollocks in the way of it.

Until I hear the entire EP, I'm going to be on tenterhooks about this. As it is, I'm glad it's an EP instead of an LP at this point, simply because we really don't know what to expect now. In the meantime, I have yet to decide if we're going to have Cottage Pie, or Spaghetti Bake on Tim Tuesday.
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