You Blew It! – “You Blue It”

Grade: A-

Key Track: “Surf Wax America”

The never-ending and ultimately inane debate about Weezer’s place in 90’s emo has been revived again, with Weezer’s influence on hybrid emo/pop-punk seen heavily in the past few years. So it only makes sense for a band like You Blew It! to do a series of Weezer covers. The band, right on the heels of their excellent sophomore album “Keep Doing What You’re Doing,” embody Weezer’s amped-up style of lovable-but-lonely fuzz-rock. The five songs they cover, all from Weezer’s legendary debut, are less covers and more progressions, showing how much Weezer really has influenced today’s emo.

The purpose of this EP wasn’t notoriety, the band stayed away from the Blue Album’s most recognizable songs – “Buddy Holly,” “Say It Ain’t So,” and “Undone” – in favor for some deeper cuts. “My Name is Jonas” and “Surf Wax America” are still recognized songs, but less so, and “In the Garage,” “Only In Dreams” and B-side “Susanne” are still somehow deep cuts. You Blew It! keep the songs mostly intact, preserving their integrity instead of flashing them up in any way.
“In the Garage” kicks the EP off, and it actually lacks the energy that the original boasts, as the band takes a more lackluster approach – either a reflection of emo’s slow draining of energy, or just a build up into the more accurate cover of “My Name is Jonas.” They keep the song almost as it is originally, as they probably should, adding only some reverb at the end.

“Only In Dreams” gets drastically shortened and moved to the midpoint, although it still serves as the longest song (as did the original version). “Surf Wax America” is probably the EP’s best song, with the band changing up the opening riff into a more emo-friendly rhythm before launching into a cover with just as much energy and guitar as the original. “Susanne,” meanwhile, is presented as a low-key acoustic track with a more lo-fi sound.

You Blew It!’s adherence to Weezer’s original, largely simple songs is reflective of a band honoring their influences instead of trying to overcome them. Weezer’s Blue Album has stood against time – we’re all still listening to it like it’s our first time. The Blue Album, whether Weezer was trying to or not, laid a template for pop-punk today, and You Blew It! is just the band to watch their throne. “You Blue It” is more about reflecting the progress of emo than it is about either band, showing how it’s evolved in form, and how it hasn’t really actually evolved at all. These are five reliable homages, as one band in their prime honors another from theirs.

-By Andrew McNally

Modern Baseball – “You’re Gonna Miss It All”

(Photo Credit: bandcamp)

Grade: A-

Key Tracks: “Fine, Great” “Your Graduation”

Coming in at 12 tracks over only 30 minutes, Modern Baseball’s new LP might seem like a no frills, no punches blast of energy. But it really isn’t – the band takes their time on their new album. Their previous LP, “Sports,” was already one of the better albums of the whole 4th wave emo/pop-punk movement going on right now, but “You’re Gonna Miss It All” goes far beyond it. This album has a lot of depth and clarity, cementing itself directly in between emo and pop-punk, taking the best parts of both.

The album’s opener, “Fine, Great” starts acoustic. And although it builds into an electric chorus, it states the album’s tone – emotion over energy. Sure, later tracks like “Broken Cash Machine” and “Charlie Black” up the volume and energy, but only as the band sees fit. The band switches from big choruses to slower, acoustic rhythms at the drop of a hat, but does it seamlessly. The almost contradictory natures of the songs adds a complete, succinctness to the album. Where many bands in this movement have stuck to their sound (and done it well!), Modern Baseball have gone beyond themselves and expanded into foreign territories.

“Tryin’ hard / Not to look like I’m tryin’ that hard / Failing miserably at everything including that” opens the song “Two Good Things.” There’s a lot to be said about the vocals and lyrics on the album. The lyrics on the album are appropriately honest – as poetic as the Front Bottoms, and less hazy. The band seems to have the nailed the whole ‘realistic devastation’ that is common among emo bands today. And the vocals – refreshingly – are very clear, thanks to some clean production. While bands like Dads and TWIABPAIANLATD have even more devastating lyrics, they’re often lost in the more guttural vocals.

The album encompasses both pop-punk and emo at it’s finest. It’s simple but devastating, and sounds made by some average people just sitting around, encompassed by unexplainable (or totally explainable) emotions. Personally, I have been heavily into the 4th wave emo thing happening, and while I’ve been fond of Modern Baseball, I hadn’t loved them like I do Dads, the Menzingers, or Snowing. This album will definitely change that. Let “You’re Gonna Miss It All” become a forefront in the genre. The album can build you up and knock you down in exactly 30 minutes, and it’s both diverse and coherent. The album’s only real fault is that so many of the songs end so soon – there’s only one song over three minutes. And “I want more” isn’t so much a fault of the band as it is the listener. Modern Baseball have moved themselves into the forefront of a very packed genre.

If you like this, try: You Blew It!’s new record, “Keep Doing What You’re Doing,” almost as good as this one.

-By Andrew McNally