The Classic Crime – Vagabonds

By Michael Mayer III on April-1-2010 | Filed under Reviews | Tags : | Share

The Classic Crime – Vagabonds
Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/5Score: 4/54
4.0 (10 votes)

Artist: The Classic Crime
Album: Vagabonds
Label: Tooth & Nail
Release Date: April 6, 2010
Review by: Michael Mayer III

Tracklisting:

  1. A Perfect Voice
  2. Cheap Shots
  3. Solar Powered Life
  4. Four Chords
  5. Vagabonds
  6. The Happy Nihilist
  7. My Name
  8. Everything and Nothing
  9. The Count
  10. Different Now
  11. Broken Mess

Typically, the third full-length album in a band’s career is a pivotal one. That mostly has to do with the dreaded term ‘sophomore slump’ and all its implications but with The Classic Crime we don’t have to worry about that. Instead, they have to find some way to follow up the excellent The Silver Cord. That brings us to Vagabonds, a catchy album in its own right but a stylistically different one from its predecessor. Whereas The Silver Cord was a collection of powerful songs based around a loose concept, this one seems destined to be played in arenas with anthemic rock choruses at every turn. Even the ballads are upbeat and engaging. Make no mistake about it, Vagabonds is an album meant to be played live in front of an energetic crowd.

In the first song, ‘A Perfect Voice’, you will hear just what I mean. It’s a simple two-chord song with an upbeat chorus and a flurry of ‘ooh oh ooh oh’s making it impossible to not want to join in. You may as well get used to those ooh oh’s too because they are peppered all over the album with solid backing vocal harmonies like they’ve never had before. Then you have the classic rock inspired ‘Solar Powered Life’ that features an interesting exchange between the vocalist and a response from the guitar with a southern rock vibe. It definitely reminds me of something Led Zeppelin did on occasion. Then at the bridge everything slows down and the cow bell comes in clearly. Unfortunately the song is over before it begins, its one true fault, but it’s a blast to listen to.

Matt truly has a unique voice and he has always had a knack for finding the perfect vocal hook in choruses or addictive styles to sing with and they are most apparent in ‘Vagabonds’ and ‘The Happy Nihilist’. The former, of which, he does a fantastic job of matching the creative guitar chords and he shows off his range in the chorus. It should also be said that the drumming by Paul is spot on for the anthemic songs and often he adds little touches to give a track another unique sound. Speaking of catchy, nothing on this album is more infectious than the way Matt sings the verses in ‘The Happy Nihilist’. It instantly jumps out at you as he deftly carries the whole song at the beginning with minimal sounds from the other instruments to back him up. Then there is a perfect buildup to the end where Matt just unleashes the lyrics rapidly and tops it off with some light screaming. The start and stop drum beat also makes me feel this would be an awesome song timed to strobe lights.

The band has been on record in saying that they don’t like being cornered as a Christian band and that’s reflected in the lyrics. You will rarely hear any direct references to God but if you listen closely you’ll find all sorts of clues to their beliefs. Sometimes those subtle moments you notice make the song all the more enjoyable though. Take the mammoth ballad ‘My Name’, for instance, where Matt passionately sings in the first verse:

“I have seen my own gravestone and worshipped the golden statue
I have made my bear in the lion’s den and walked in dead man’s shoes.”

Then in the chorus, amidst moving string arrangements and strong backing vocals, he triumphantly declares:

“I will walk through the fire/I will not be afraid.
They can take everything that I have/they can’t give me my name.

It’s all brilliantly pieced together and might just be their best ballad yet. After that the next few songs are hit and miss. ‘The Count’ is another one of my favorites though, thanks to the fact it sounds more in line with The Silver Cord than anything else. It’s easily the most complex song on the album with multiple time signatures and a larger-than-life chorus that you can’t help but fall in love with. Of all the songs on Vagabonds this is the one I’d want to hear live the most. So much is going on that it’s basically like an aural circus. It is also perfectly placed in the tracklist among simpler songs.

Overall: So far Vagabonds is the best anthemic rock release of the year and hopefully it’s one that launches their career further ahead. However, for those looking for more of the same style as The Silver Cord they may be a bit disappointed. This really isn’t so much of a progression as it is a revamping of their sound. That being said, it seems like The Classic Crime are having more fun than ever and there’s no doubt their live shows will be even more frantic than before. The lasting appeal of this album will be lacking with little diversity in the tracks and the overall sound though. While it may be a fun spin, it won’t be something that will leave an impression outside of the standout tracks.

Gems of this album are: ‘The Happy Nihilist’, ‘The Count’, ‘Solar Powered Life’, ‘Vagabonds’, ‘My Name’

[Myspace]

The Classic Crime - Vagabonds, 4.0 out of 5 based on 10 ratings

Click here to list all the current reviews by Michael Mayer III

32 Responses to 'The Classic Crime – Vagabonds'

  1. Katie says:

    nice review!(:
    love them && can’t wait to get the album!<3

  2. Tim says:

    Great band. I love how the first track is titled ‘A Perfect Voice’ when I actually consider Matt’s voice to be just that.

    Good review.

  3. tyler h says:

    funny, Tim, because the lyrics in that long say “I may not have a perfect voice, but I’ll still sing…”

    still…everyone buy this. its good.

  4. Brandon says:

    I agree with all the above sentiments. This a superb release and my favorite from them so far. There is just so much good stuff in the album to enjoy and will probably please any fan of rock music in the world.

  5. Chase says:

    Sweet :) I’m glad they are always trying to do something different with each release.

  6. Brody says:

    I’m listening to the fill stream on myspace now. It has a completely different vibe to it than the Silver Cord, but I really like it.

  7. I still love The Silver Cord most and always will. I just love how powerful the songs ‘God and Drugs’ and ‘Medisin’ are and the album feels complete. This one has a filler track or two and is on par with Albatross for me. Either way though, it’s still a great album. I just fear I won’t be listening to it in 2 years like I am with The Silver Cord still.

  8. Joe M says:

    This album is good, but a bit of a letdown for me after listening to the Silver Cord so much. I like that it has a different vibe than either of the other two albums, and there are some absolutely brilliant songs on this record (read “The Happy Nihilist” and “Broken Mess”). I enjoy it, but like Michael I suspect tht in two years when the next tcc record is in the works, Silver Cord will still be in my player, not this one.

  9. aaronator says:

    From my couple of listens to the CD so far, I have a feeling Vagabonds is going to be similar to As Cities Burn “Hell or High Water” to me. Both the Silver Cord by TCC and “Come Now Sleep” were so amazing that their follow-ups could no way match them in my mind. Interesting that the sophomore records were actually better than the supposed “masterpiece” the third record should be. Overall though, Vagabonds is an enjoyable listen all the way through that will be amazing to blast with the windows down driving through town on sunny, summer days.

  10. Aaron, interesting comparison and I agree. Both bands made phenomenal sophomore albums, avoiding the slump, and the follow-ups weren’t as good. And Alex I’d have to say HoHW was by far their weakest. You can tell the band was on their way out the door and it didn’t feel concise at all.

  11. Saltine says:

    I love HoHW! It’s my favorite ACB record.

  12. aaronator says:

    Didn’t mean to turn a TCC review into an ACB comment-fest haha.

  13. Haha, that’s alright. Least you made a point about it and didn’t try hijacking the review like our resident Advent and LS crazies like to do. :-P

    • Chris says:

      Are you referring to me? I have made a point about the songs I’ve heard: they are bland, dry and one of them features a man crying. I have heard on this site, that you have to listen to “Vagabonds” a lot before it really becomes catchy. I could pop something on from a bunch of different artists and it would be catchy from the first listen.

      I’m not criticizing the album as revenge, but I am posting to defend myself so I might as well address the lyrics. I’m not going to assault the bands that allude to God vaguely and in metaphors, then backstage answer the questions. These “Christians in bands” don’t have to answer to me and I can’t say that God calls every person to use their most powerful avenue given them to proclaim the gospel. However, here is my gripe. Whether it’s a new hardcore band or Derek Webb, it is totally en vogue to emphasize relationship over religion.

      The first problem is one I mention for the band’s sake. That is a slightly accurate model for Christianity, but they don’t realize that other people with platforms who are incredibly bold and unashamed of the gospel, are theological experts, and preach at churches that break the stereotype represented in this music, believe the same thing as them.

      The second problem, is there should be an exactness to the attack. It’s man-made religion that is wrong. Otherwise, people who are interested in God, based on this criticism, will be in for a rude awakening when they get in the Bible.

      The third problem is that when you whip out this “anti-American Christianity” device, regardless of how deliberately narrow it is, it is a device that is really easy, and is as universally appealing (in other words, easy to gain appeal with) and as overplayed a topic as the topic of a girl.

      Here are some samples:

      Everything and Nothing
      “I

  14. aaronator says:

    I do have to say Solar Powered Life is an amazing song….rates highly among their great songs like Medisin, God & Drugs, and R and R…overall this CD does not seem to be as emotional but more just straight up rock

  15. Trent W says:

    The record is pretty good, thought i’d have to agree with your review. It’s a fun record but not much that really sticks with you.
    Though I must say, I absolutely love The Happy Nihilist.

  16. Zack says:

    here is what i am thinking, the first time i heard it i liked it but i felt like something was missing. but then after listening to it a few more times i liked it more and more. So i feel like the more i listen to the more i have an understanding of where they are coming from. I feel like musically this album is great but not amazing, but the lyrics are what carry it

  17. This album will definitely grow on you thanks in large part to the vocal hooks but it just doesn’t grow enough to make it a phenomenal album. It really sounds like they had fun making it but it’s not as deep and artistic as The Silver Cord.

  18. Alexander P says:

    Absolutely love this album. 10 stars. My fave track is Broken Mess, and this is a pretty good review :D

  19. Erm… Chris, I wasn’t referring to you at all or anyone else in this thread. I was just talking about the Advent fans that like to go into any non-Advent post and start talking about them and I meant no harm by it.

  20. Chris says:

    “Advent and LS crazies?”

    I have to protect my mythos.

  21. To be honest I don’t remember ever seeing you do that but if you did I wish no ill toward you for it. Just a tongue-in-cheek remark, ha.

  22. Chris says:

    I will admit to being critical of artists I like for their lyric-writing. For example, in As I Lay Dying’s new song “Beyond Our Suffering”, they talk about people here on Earth being “truly in hell”. Now, using Hell as hyperbole is something I wouldn’t do personally, but doesn’t bother me. However, going to good lengths to pretend to know that something on Earth can be like the literal, eternal Hell of the Bible seems a bit immature.

  23. Chris says:

    I wear the Living Sacrifice crazie badge with a smile, but I’m always looking for a band that I will like even more. I like aspects of Stick To Your Guns whose new album is out June 1st but they go into the whiny territory on some tracks. Once is too much for me.

    Other than that, I enjoy Our Corpse Destroyed and especially Venia and Thieves and Liars with some Saving Grace, Plea For Purging, Children 18:3, and some Showdown thrown in. Those last three bands all have new albums out this year, so it will be crucial if they want to be their crazie.

  24. Jacob says:

    Chris, I would encourage you to read Matt Macdonald’s blog, entitled “The Jet City Filter” on Blogspot. That is most certainly introspective, but I think you’ll gain a deeper understanding of his lyrical inspiration. For example, Solar Powered Life will gain new meaning for you when you begin to understand the beautiful relationship Matt shares with his wife, whom I would hope the song was wrote for. I’d also encourage you to look into the band’s involvement with Jesus in Haiti Ministries via their video updates. We could debate about whether or not there are themes of victimization present within the band, but from my point of view this band has grasped an understanding of what it means to be the hands and feet of Christ.

    These recommendations really go out to anyone who’s even slightly interested in this band. I’ve followed them since they were signed with T&N, and am very grateful for the way God has used their music in my life. Sometimes it takes a band like this for us to understand our brokenness, and further humble us before our lord and savior Jesus Christ.

  25. Colby says:

    I thought solar powered life was the worst song on the album. Interesting that so many others pick it as a gem and that it was the single.

    It’s not the silver cord but it’s good TCC none the less. Listening to this album makes me revisit my dreams of being a musician myself. It’s not often that this occurs but is a very restoring experience.

    Another interesting note is that I quite enjoyed the itunes singles!

    I really regret my roommates talking me out of seeing TCC live, and am looking forward to the next time I can make it happen!

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