Dream Life Misery

"Closest Line Theory"

(W. C.'s review: In an attempt to be media friendly, I will replace most of my usual profanity with lighter terms, or hyphens. Maybe. I don't know. Kiss my ass.)

Short review for cdbaby.com:

All 11 tracks are great, and even though I played it loud, my girlfriend never complained! Great job; I love this CD--I'm now playing it for the 4th time today...

Extended dance mix review for the webpage, written in underwear over a 3-day period with lots of caffeine and Mexican food. Amazingly enough, this is still relatively sober. I will get ripped and listen to it later, hell yes, but so far I'm being good and 'sponsible. Sort of. This is now my 12th listen to the CD.

Unwisely, I have decided to do this at a high enough volume for it to potentially bother my girlfriend. We'll know there's a problem if she shuts her door or comes to ask me to turn it down. But remember that she likes the copy of "Brand New Worries" that I found for her in that bargain bin a couple of years ago. 2 girlfriends in a row have liked that CD. See? This is going to be a tough ride here; they have to impress me, AND not piss off my girlfriend. Good luck...

...I've been waiting 8 years for a follow-up to 3PN's Brand New Worries. Here it is (well, sort of); and I feel the tension as I put it into my CD player. Tension...how can this new CD ever compare to those incredible sounds I heard 8 years ago? Expectations already; but even if it sucks, it'll probably still be better than most of the crap out there right now. Right. I'm a fan and a critic. I want it to be excellent, but I will not hesitate to throw a screaming ----fit if need be. Part of me is pissed that this took so many years come out...but then again, this band HAS been through the blender...and there was that whole thing about the death of real radio--that didn't help anybody...and maybe we should just be happy that there was enough persistence for them ("them" here refers to the lead singer/guitarist and original bass player; Doug and Steve--whassup!) to forge on and put out more music. It's also a good idea to have a guy in the band who can do production; hello guitarist/singer Paul. And they needed a new drummer; enter Dan. It's pretty obvious that Dream Life Misery have conquered some issues here, but I'm still working on mine. There's only one thing to do; put the darn CD in and rip it.

1. Out of Nowhere: Nice. Strong. "It came from out of nowhere." Excellent track; I don't feel anything missing; please keep this up.
2. Farewell December: Definite radio single; very catchy. Are those goosebumps? I have goosebumps; this appears to be going well. This is already one of my top 4 on the album--from the first listen.
3. The Enemy: A tad slower; this was coming. Slow songs piss my girlfriend off. Can it hold my attention? I have to say 'yes'. Good enough song; decent transitions. A weak power ballad? How do you describe music like this? This song's a little whiney; not really my style, but still okay.
4. To Say The Least: This is another ballad-type, but more listenable. If this is generic DLM, then this is fine with me. I like this; no problems here.
5. Low: 4 bleeds into 5 on the album; that's a sweet old rock and roll trick that I have missed. Good job guys. And I hear the same quality that's been on every track so far. I might say that there is a slight lack of range, but that's similar to all good rock bands.
6. Disappear: I snoozed off on cruise control here--typing at the keyboard; wanted to see if my overall perception was good or bad--without dissection. Perception without dissection; you know what I mean, right? Caught myself bobbing my head (hell yeah)--that's usually a very good sign. Then I looked up and we were on song 7; again, good job guys. No; GREAT job here. I've been waiting for you to show the good range in 1 song, and this was it. It never gets too slow to lose me.
7. All You Really Want: This thing rocks. Radio friendly, for sure. Hey; here's my first complaint--this song ain't freakin' long enough. I know it's busy, but...oh well. 3:36? That's it? No; this one needs to be your 6 minute song...Wait; this album doesn't have a 6 minute song? Okay, then, that's my 2nd complaint--and you should know this: a real rock band puts a 6 minute song on the album JUST FOR FANS. I'm very disappointed. This is one of the best 4 on the album.
8. Time Is Now: Softer? Yes; I've been wanting to hear their softer side. It still works, mostly. Is this your accoustic one? Yep; this is your weakest link. It should be even more accoustic. Yeah; this should be your weak thing for the girls.
9. The Word: Check this out! Seriously; it is so obvious that these guys are having a little bit of fun here! (me, too) They sound great, and they kinda/sorta know it. We have some creativity with the drums and guitar--good creativity; good transitions, too. Range; it took a few songs to get here, but we made it. This is quality songwriting--the world needs more of this. Oh I like this. Now I'm worried that they can't follow this up. We'll see. One more regular song, and then we'll hear how they close this thing out. As it stands, I would have made THIS one the last song on the album--but they might have some more tricks. I'm pushing brokedom here, I mean "stems and resin" broke, and I'm GLAD that I spent $12 on this CD. "You don't know the meaning of the word." This is my favorite song on the CD; #1 of the best 4.
10. Make It Rain: Cruise control again; my fault. I was thinking about how good "The Word" was, when I should have been paying more attention to this. But it felt good overall; like, I'm immersed here...I'm sitting at my desk, with my valuable time, and I'm enjoying the first listen to a new CD. Should the CD be so good that I wind up daydreaming through 2 cuts of it (I did), then that's a freaking compliment. He yelled; Doug finally yelled! This is the generic sound of the band? Sign me up in the new fan club.
11. That Way: It just started; good luck trying to follow up "Stain" for a final cut. Hey, this guitar sounds a little like "Stain". "We're Not Gonna Go Out That Way"; I get it. It's a statement song; and a fine statement it is. Hook me up, baby! Again with the same excellent musical quality here. I hear strength in this, and I picture this as the song they might enjoy most playing live--similar to how I felt about "Stain". So this DOES wind up being a good one to end with, and they DID have one more trick to throw at us. Very well done, gentlemen. This song is also a top 4 on the album. Now I'm going to go back and listen to 6 and 10 again.
My girlfriend has not complained at all yet. There's your review, guys; "Your music did not piss my girlfriend off." Good job.

And then what happened? So happy as I was with the listen in my room, I decided to try it out in the living room, as background noise, while I worked in the kitchen. I danced, did air-guitar, smiled and head-bobbed. Girlfriend came out and did not say a word about the music; I asked if it bothered her, and she said 'no'. Wow. Made it all the way through 10 songs, and we already know that the last one is excellent. That's 2 full listens, and we're all good here. Hours pass. We're doing a 3rd listen here after midnight, on the small computer speakers. It's just as good in late-night mode, too. Nice...

...Okay, okay, any moron trying to scam a t-shirt can drip praise on a band or a CD, meathead. Be critical; use your musical melon to try and give them something they can use. Right.

Every rock band is limited for range. Even with that limited range on "Brand New Worries" 8 years ago, you made up for it magically by making sure that the end of song "A" was very different from the intro of song "B". In fact, it only took a few seconds of the next song to remind you that you were now listening to a new song, also good, but slightly different. No kidding; 3PN spoiled me. Maybe I was assuming it would be the same on this CD--which isn't fair to you at all. There is some variation here, of course; you guys know how to do good intro's.
Hmmm...If your restaurant is only going to serve up one kind of food (rock), then you'd better be able to serve it up a couple of different ways...Was there any guitar-tuning differentiation on Closest Line Theory, or could it all be done with the same 2 guitars? Aside from "The Word", I didn't hear much drum experimenting. Maybe you didn't want much. You don't need much; plus he's new, and probably doesn't want to stir up something that's NOT broken. Look at how hard I have to dig to try to constructively criticize you. I don't even like accoustic crap, okay? But if you sit Doug on a stool with a 12-string guitar and let him puke out something like "Time Is Now" (or maybe something even weaker) alone; well, then you get to add the whole teen girl "love song" demo, and that song proves even more "range". Sure; you hope your fans will like every song you play, but in reality you want your SPECIFIC fans to like some songs more than others--that's life. I think it sucks, too, but most people like a little variation.

Obviously you would counter my complaint with track #3 "The Enemy", because it floats between soft and strong. Yes, exactly. For some reason, #3 seems a little whiney to me. We need more of these 'best of both worlds' type songs. To me, #4 is a better 'best of both worlds' song--but remember that I like the harder side of things. #6 "Disappear" is another good song with both worlds. Crap. It's hard...

It's hard to be just a rock band, and it's hard to be just a rock fan. Okay, wait, I've got one. Right here; from me to you. In my roots, I have a little bit of punk rock. If your singer only yells in one song, and your drummer only breaks out of "drum machine mode" in one song, then what have you done to appeal to my punk shadow? Is that cold? Am I being cold? I don't want to be cold. I love this CD; I'm now playing it for the 4th time today--get off my freakin' back. Here's what I think: you're there. You've got it, or you didn't lose it. So; instead of swimming around in hollow praise from starry-eyed zombies, why not go ahead and make your band the best it can be? Not all decisions are popular; again, that's life. I want to hear some more screaming, ONE accoustic piece of crap, and a 2-minute tribute to the Ramones--with a drum intro--that'll make me cry. Or, at least give your drummer 1 drum intro for a song on the next album. Point of reference? Sure; #2, Farewell December gave me chills before, and now it's doing it again. There's something in this song that works, or maybe it's what I would choose to be the 1st radio single. Yeah; and that's (#2) the best ending on the CD, and maybe the best transition into #3. See? I notice things. Save "The Word" and "All You Really Want" for later; B-sides, for fans only, new music shows, etc.

What a CD! It so completely works. It's hard to say "pleasantly surprised" because my expectations were so high. To say simply that I'm "not disappointed" is more accurate. You set your own bar pretty high 8 years ago. If I still had a new music show on the radio, I'd play 2, 7, 9, and 11 before I even cared what the first single was supposed to be (Lemming Song--my ass!). You should get some good recognition for "Closest Line Theory", and you will, but now I'm going to be expecting even more from you.

If you want a real live number grade from me, even though you didn't ask for it, I happily give you a 90...90 is the lowest "A" possible, a true "A-" by any consideration, but that's only because I know that you're capable of even better. However; any "A" grade on a first effort, or a second effort after 8 years, is a pretty damn fine grade.

Slightly longer review, for the band to file:

There was more range on the CD 8 years ago, but that one makes my top 10 list of all time. This "Closest Line Theory" CD has barely enough range, sure, but I don't hear any stretching to try to take it to a broader audience. And that may well be a pissy little detail to bitch about, but I know how you have the talent to string songs together--and possibly IMPRESS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLDS (there's a working title for your next CD, huh?). I'm having trouble saying the words right. I HEAR the effort, and it's damn good effort. I'm just not sure I hear the EXTRA effort; the hunger...blah blah blah...The...need? Sure; okay, "Brand New Worries" HAD to be made, it NEEDED to be made because it didn't exist in nature. This new CD is great--bordering on excellent. It's (low) "A" grade stuff--if that's what it's going to take to get you to do another one even better. Here's what I hope; I hope that you DIDN'T (blow your wad) try too hard here. I hope that this is your default sound; if this is, then there's more good stuff coming. I can't wait. What a wasted paragraph this is. Sorry.

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