Band: Blood and Water
Album: In Character
Label: Eden Records
Release Date: July 13th 2010
1. Sleep it Off
2. McGee and Me
3. Opening Band
4. Hear Me Out
6. Feeling Better
7. I Am Spartacus
9. Given Up
10. Weighed and Measured
Blood and Water have crafted a fine sophomore album and a proper first release for Eden Records. Blood and Water defy all classifications for what a rock band “should” sound like and shake their finger at critics with their unflinchingly catchy alt rock anthems. In Character, from start to finish, is like an exhilarating roller coaster, shaking you from left to right and keeping you glued to your seat for an entire 50 minutes. This band has a knack for writing catchy summer time anthems about life, love, and youthful celebration. In Character is one of those albums you spin more than once, maybe more like 10 times at least that’s how many I’ve given it so far.
First track on the album is “Sleep it Off” and it’s a little misleading. You would think you’re listening to some “Ska” band but then they hit you with the two ton brick of a chorus and you’re transported into their world of alt rock melodies. This is one of the only songs on the record with anything resembling “Ska”. The chorus sings…
I can’t remember how long my life has been this song:
“The world keeps moving faster, yet I keep right along”.
For all these years I’ve wondered,
When this makes sense will we see what I’ve needed so long,
Was you to sing with me.
The band’s single “McGee and Me” is up next and shows the band moving further in their alt rock mode of songwriting. This song is inspired by an old Focus on the Family show. I am beginning to see a very strong Eve 6 influence in the songs at hand.
“Opening Band” is the third track and is a little more somber. This song is an anthem for every small “opening band” across the world, who gets their start opening up shows and playing in garages.
My car is out of gas and the air-conditioning doesn’t work.
Teaching Sunday School when I can’t say I have it all together.
Yesterday, driving home from a trip to Half Moon Bay,
We blessed the rains to a mixtape made by hand for you that day.
Hindsight, they say, is 20/20 vision,
Meaning that the grass ain’t always greener side to side.
If God only knows what’s in store,
I’ll read about it in books and say…
“Hear Me Out” is the fourth song on the record and features more sing a long choruses and big production that makes this song really soar. This song definitely stands out as a catchy radio-like number. This one reminds me of that band Fastball, or Everclear.
I find it hard to understand how you cannot sleep through the night,
When nine times out of ten you’re the one who’s claiming “everything’s alright”.
I know it’s hard for you to take, but please just hear me out this once,
I wrote this song for moving on, so please, just hear me out this once.
“Oblio” is the fifth track on the album and features a driving guitar line and fast drum beat that gets your fist pumping. The dual vocals add a perfect touch. The lyrics offer a glimmer of hope…
I’m questioning everything I have said,
If I do what I’ve always done I never have to change.
All of my plans, they have been stripped away,
Now I move step-step and I simply manage day by day.
I’m breaking free of mediocrity,
Because the God I believe in believes there is hope in me.
It’s gonna take everything I have left.
I hear complacency at the back door say I’m too far gone.
We’ve memorized every word, line for line,
We can’t seem to get all the foot-work in time.
Not the words of our mouths, but the actions we take
That broadcast the truth of the point that we’re trying to make.
“Feeling Better” is one of my favorite songs on the album. It’s a little slower and more in the vein of a “Ballad” type track. It starts off with the acoustic guitar and deep bass line. It’s one of those songs that is a slow builder, with a crescendo into a catchy chorus and a soaring sing a long session. While the rest of the tracks are meant to be enjoyed on warm sunny afternoons , this one is a song to be enjoyed on a rain soaked day, driving underneath the clouds singing to passing cars. At least that’s how I feel listening to it.
Know that there’s someone who cares,
Know that there’s someone who loves you.
You’re not alone.
“I Am Spartacus” is the 7th track on the album and features more dueling guitars and vocals. I don’t know which guy is singing what but I like it. I hear a little bit of a Too Bad Eugene like sound on this song.
You said, “all things work together for good”,
I don’t see how they ever could,
If I keep my head buried in the sand,
Instead of letting You guide me with Your Hand.
Another HIT song, the track “Sinking” is up next and should probably be their second single. “I’m trying my best to keep my head above the water…” I like the piano touch towards the end. I love the lyrics to this song so I am putting them all up here.
Time stands still and you won’t listen,
Don’t you know that God forgives all my mistakes?
I’d drive all night, if it would make you happy,
But my attention span is short, I could be drifting anywhere
You know I’m trying my best to keep my head above the water,
I can work this out.
But as my eyes start to shift from the hand that’s reaching out to me,
I am sinking down.
Day by day, I’m losing my friends,
I’m searching for sunshine in the black of night.
I guess it’s not so bad beyond that all I touch is dead and gone.
I need some options here, I could be drifting anywhere.
“Given Up” is the 9th track on the album and has a sort of new wave feel at the beginning. Very somber and touching song. Another ballad, yet rockin’ enough to keep it on track with the rest of the album. Simple guitar ska/reggae upbeat in the chorus and the gentle touch of a horn is a nice addition. Love these lyrics too.
Since then, I’ve tasted failure
And I’ve found my need for God.
I’m still working out the details with my family, friends,
And all good intentions.
Weighed and Measured is the 10th track to this album and finds the band in acoustic mode. A simple cry out to God and living through disappointments in life.
Will someone say, what is the purpose of
My constant striving, my seeming lack of love?
My head held high, to hide my disappointment.
It’s time that I should be moving along.
“Oh, my son, where are you going?
Oh, my son, I have been waiting here.
Don’t you know I will always take you back?
It’s time that we should be moving along.”
The backup vocals lend a helping hand to the gently moving chorus.
“Gakou” is a hit heavy song that brings back all the memories of my youth and the exuberance found in 90’s alt rock. Everything you missed about big soaring choruses and sing a longs are back in action within Blood and Water. Gakou is a perfect example of this.
I can’t be everything
And I can’t do what I say I will do,
I’m just trying my best to keep us all singin now.
“Secondhand” is the 11th song on the album and finds them yet again in 90s alt rock mode. Everything you loved about Everclear, Eve 6, or Third Eye Blind, can be found in the chorus.
“Interstate” is the final song on the album and finds the band exploring their acoustic side a bit more. It’s a simple yearning for growing up and putting cares behind you, living life at its fullest. A song about finding hope and meaning through it all….
You said “son, know who you are is not who you’re going to be. The road is long, but we’ll get there. Put your cares on Me.”
Towards the end of “Interstate”, they start singing back the chorus of “Sleep it Off” which I thought was pretty cool.
Now we reach the end of this review. Here is where my opinions shall be made known. What’s turning out to be THE summer album you’ll want to own. “In Character” by Blood and Water puts the band up against the best elements of 90′s alt-rock and mixes it in a blender with equal parts melody, hook driven harmonies, and blazing guitar work akin to bands like Everclear, Lit, Eve 6, Third Eye Blind, 311, Five Iron Frenzy, Goldfinger, Smash Mouth, and new bands like Weezer and Motion City Soundtrack. The perfect summer album for a day at the beach. So far, “In Character” is at the top of my list for favorite album of 2010. No joke. I love it THAT much. Only time will tell if it remains at the top of my list throughout the rest of the year but I have a feeling it will. Everything you loved about the chorus and melodies of 90’s alt rock bands is found on “In Character” yet it strays from being completely a retread of the past. This is a band at the top of their game and there is far too much originalityin them to just remain that little opening band everyone talks about. Oh no friends, this band is going to blow up in the next year or so and we’re going to see their careers take off. This band is too big for the little “Christian” market and I believe their music needs to be pushed to general market radio. Songs on this album should be spinning on today’s top alt rock stations. Even if there is a spiritual bent to the songs, it shouldn’t matter and I don’t think modern radio really cares anyhow. This is the kind of music that needs to be shared with the world at large, not just because of its catchy choruses and harmonies but because of its content and hope driven message.
Overall: In Character by Blood and Water is easily the top alternative rock album of 2010 and the band are clearly leaders in a scene known for mediocrity and clones. They stand apart from the pack. They reach into your hearts with their guitar driven rock mixed with insane melody and addictive harmonies meant for long hot summer days. This is perfect beach music if you live near one. Being a California band it’s not tough to see Blood and Water playing some beach fest out here. Where their elders failed to keep the careers running and remain on the radio, Blood and Water pick up the slack and find themselves at the forefront of a burgeoning scene of poppy punk/alternative bands, bringing melody to the masses. This review has taken me forever to write and I’ve been dreaming up clever lines to express my love for “In Character” but just know this, you won’t find a more addictive album to listen to in quite some time. I would also like to mention that Masaki’s production is top notch and the blend of all the instruments together though my speakers is pure perfection. There is a perfect balance in sound and definitely geared for radio. Blahhhhh…. enough of my blabbering, go out and preorder this album now and support the band everyone will be talking about in a year’s time. Rock out!
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