Album Review :
Capital Lights - This is an Outrage!

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Artist: Capital Lights
Album: This is an Outrage!
Label: Tooth and Nail Records
Buy It: Amazon/Amazon MP3
Review by the Headless Horseman.

1. Outrage
2. Worth as Much as a Counterfeit Dollar
3. Out of Control
4. Remember the Day
5. Miracle Man
6. Mile Away
7. Work it Out
8. Let the Little Lady Talk
9. Return
10. Kick It Off
11. The Night of Your Life is When You Die
12. Frank Morris

There are some bands you just know cannot make a great CD. Some bands are just riders of trends, the “fearless leaders” of cliched, paper-fisted bandwagons. Some bands were assembled by record labels, some bands were assembled by economics, and some bands were assembled by MTV, the “M” in which cannot possibly stand for “Music” anymore. “Mutilated” would fit better. Some bands just don’t really make good music.

Tooth and Nail signed a band called AfterEight. I smirked, then paid no attention whatsoever. As we all know, Tooth and Nail hasn’t signed a really good band since, like, Ghoti Hook. Or at least Anberlin. None of them matter anymore. The band changed its name to Capital Lights, at which point I continued paying no attention whatsoever, though I did note that at least the new name sucked less. I just knew this band would not matter. I just knew they didn’t deserve to be wiping the shoes of the Juliana Theory, let alone on the label they once graced. The band posted its first single, “Outrage.” I listen, and I rejoice. I was right. This kind of cutesy-pop with its manufactured cleverness is an abomination to the music world. Capital Lights don’t deserve to be working at Burger King, let alone playing on a stage with relatively recognized acts. They’re as bad as, like, Boys Like Girls. Or Trace Cyrus. Or maybe even Billy Ray Cyrus…or something.

Did that song end? Hmm. Well, just to prove I can take this ear-murdering pain, I guess I’ll play it again. I really need to think of something clever to post about how this is a bad song. This singer sounds like a girl. His forced annunciation is…well…forced. Hmm. I need something cutting. Wait…How about this? “Not to be rude, but this song is just stupid. The hook may catch on with me after a listen or two, but that won’t change the fact that everything about this song is incredibly dumb.

That sounds pretty good. I guess I’ll play the song again. There aren’t any cool new tracks from cool bands like Alkaline Trio…and I guess that chorus is okay. I guess I’ll listen again.

…Wow. This is actually a really fun song, but not in the stupid way. The lyrics are clever, but it doesn’t exude shallowness like most bands that sound sort of like this…and come to think of it, I can’t think of anyone who sound incredibly close to this. This band appears to be made up of genuinely fun guys who can write great hooks with charming lyrics. This is really good. I can’t wait for this.

And thus was my history with the song “Outrage,” my introduction to Capital Lights. All I can say is that while there may indeed be bands we can predict will never release great CDs, whoever hired me to be the resident Nostradamus in this regard should be drawn and quartered, especially if that person was me.

An actual description of the album and why I like it may be useful at this point. “Remember the Day” is almost certainly my favorite song released this year. “Mile Away” is an almost Royksopp/old Joy Electric-sounding piece of synth-pop that sounds like a terrible idea and proceeds to grow on the listener like hair on today’s scene kid. “Out of Control,” the second “single” — whatever that means for today’s independent pop band — is driving and charmingly wistful (“A pretty boy state of mind only got me alone”), and it talks about issues with a girl. If you’re really bent on not listening to all such songs, be our guest, but this song is nigh impossible to dislike. More compelling, perhaps, are anthem for Christ’s second coming “Return” and an escape-from-Alcatraz metaphor for redefining yourself “Frank Morris,” which are — *GASP* — lyrically  well-written and musically interesting. Shame. I was looking forward to hating this so much. At least I can still rip on the cover art.

The end of the story: In July 2007 this CD unseated Alkaline Trio’s Agony & Irony, the latest effort by my favorite band, in my CD player. This is an Outrage! did not leave it for more than five weeks.

Rating: 8.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Out of Control,” “Remember the Day,” “Miracle Man,” “Return,” “Frank Morris”

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