UG Team, on february 13, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Alkaline Trio's latest CD/DVD is going to be a treat for plenty of its fans who have eagerly sought out any B-sides or rarities they could get their hands on. Remains not only includes 22 songs, but it also includes a bonus DVD featuring videos and behind-the-scenes footage. While some of the songs may seem a bit familiar because most have been released in one form or another in the past, it's still likely to be embraced by the majority of Alkaline Trio's fans because of it's got 2 essential elements covered: quantity and quality.
Vocalist/guitarist Matt Skiba, bassist/vocalist Dan Andriano, and drummer Derek Grant have put together a nice collection of songs that are likeable and have the ability to appeal to a large audience. Although the songs aren't necessarily the most groundbreaking in the rock world, there is still a nice melodic quality backed by some unique tempos that makes Alkaline Trio's music an interesting listen. The opening track Hell Yes is a catchy pop-rock tune originally from an EP of the same title that has that referenced catchy feel. As openers go, it's not the most energetic, but it's been a favorite of a lot of fans and that's probably what made it get the coveted spot on the playlist.
Metro, a cover of the Berlin tune, is one of the best on Remains. While it stays relatively true to the original, the band still adds in its own flavor here and there. First and foremost, hearing a guy sing it rather than a female (Terri Nunn) gives a new sound to the song in itself. The real difference comes from stripping the keyboards from the song and replacing it with a rawer sound. The big change comes in the solo, in which Alkaline Trio uses the guitar to cover all the funky sound heard originally by a keyboard. It's a really engaging song and it's a shame that it wasn't used as the opener.
One of the standout qualities of Alkaline Trio comes in the flexible singing style of both Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano. Unlike some other pop-punk bands, they doesn't resort to whiny vocals. In one moment they'll have a smooth, pleasing vibrato (Hell Yes), and the next he'll be yelling with the best of them (Rooftops). The vocals convey the emotion behind the lyrics perfectly, and that's not an easy task in a band with lyrics that one moment are introspective and the next caustically funny. // 8
Lyrics: In the liner notes, you'll be able to get a glimpse of where the ideas came from with all 22 tracks on Remains. Matt, Dan, and Derek put to rest any misguided theories by explaining where the inspiration came from on many tracks, not to mention the background on the musical setup as well.
There is an underlying humor present in a lot of Alkaline Trio's songs, and probably the most obvious is in Jaked On Green Beers. The band readily admits that the lyrics have nothing to do with the title (inspired by a friend who asked if they were getting jaked on green beers), which actually is pretty hilarious when you imagine all the fans racking their brains trying to figure the secret meaning to the song.
Even with the heavy dose of humor on Remains, there is still a lot of emotional content. Queen Of Pain was written about Skiba's friend and uses a fantastic allusion to Vincent Van Gogh. There's a lot of talk of stars in the song (recalling the artist's The Starry Night painting) which is where the Vincent material comes in. The fact that the band even decided to use show an interesting reference shows there is a lot more going on upstairs than some bands. // 9
Overall Impression: The band put together a very thorough songlist on Remains, and even though many are B-sides, they still can hold their own against a lot of singles. The CD is an enjoyable listen most of the way through, even if you're not necessarily a dedicated Alkaline Trio fan. What it does really well is represent the band's ability of constructing rich-sounding songs with only 3 instruments and a couple vocalists.
The DVD is a peek at life on the road with Alkaline Trio, and features both live performances as well as witty remarks from the band backstage. Old School Reasons and the live acoustic version of My Standard Break From Life are among the highlights on the disc, but the band also takes you behind-the-scenes to show a few scenes from their day-to-day lives -- and that includes shopping for briefs.
If you're not a fan of the pop-punk sound in general, Remains will probably not be a big enough departure from the genre to make an impression on you. The band does stick to the usual format for the most part, but it is at the best of the best in the genre. Songs like Rooftops and Metro represent the band at its strongest and could easily have been hit singles. For those who are already dedicated fans, Remains is essential addition by featuring 3 new live tracks and an assortment of B-sides that deserve another chance at being heard. // 9
Greenfinger182, on february 13, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Alkaline Trio, as always, comfortably find their sound between the current pop-punk contenders of today and the older punk contenders of yesteryear, specifically the Misfits. As many of you know, this CD/DVD is actually a compilation of many rare or hard-to-find Alkaline Trio tracks, with their Splits thrown on as well. Since many of the tracks offered are from earlier LPs and other tracks are songs that couldn't quite make it onto a recent release, the sound varies greatly. Some songs, like "My Standard Break from Life", sound like they could be a pre-90s punk rock sort of sound, while others, like "Buried", sound as though they were a post-Good Mourning recording. The problem with this is that they switch music styles quite often. A great example of this is that "Jaked on Green Beers", a fast, powerful, raw, F-you song comes right before "Queen of Pain", and emotional, depressing, melodic song. You've got "Dead End Road" right after "My Standard Break from Life". The song ordering on this album, for the most part, is very poor. They wanted to keep the Splits together and then tried to throw similar songs together in the breaks between the two splits. Not until the end of the album does this start working. Despite the poor ordering, the CD does attempt, at some parts, to keep the sound flowing, with most of the songs on the CD listed in chronological order (the only ones straying are those I've already mentioned). Still, no matter what the time period these songs come from, you can still tell that Matt Skiba and Dan Andriano are have a great deal of talent when it comes to writing their short, catchy breed of pop punk. Skiba still finds a way to make boring power-chord driven songs into unique harmonies, and Dan's work, especially in the earlier part of the Trio's career, follows the same example. As long-time Trio fans know, the Alk3 have never been a band with solos in their songs, and that stays true throughout this album. However, fills often times are placed in short spots during some tracks, and mange to make a difference in the song ("My Standard Break from Life" features an very catchy fill after each chorus). "Buried" shows a slight change from the typically Trio song and from Matt's usual work, which I was pleased by. The music, however, stays simple and adheres to the tried-and-true formula that this band has benefited from in the past. The only thing dragging this score down is poor ordering. // 7
Lyrics: This is one place the Trio have a tendency to get me pegged. Ranging from the topic of being insanely drunk to the topic of depressing love, the Alkaline Trio have really covered everything. Once again, as was with the music, you can tell a difference as the CD goes on, starting with very raw lyrics and moving to the aforementioned love songs. In "Jaked on Green Beers", you get lyrics like "There was a time when I thought you were a friend to me, I think those times I was probably just drunk, and if they offered a test about being a good friend, I'd put money down that you'd surely flunk... I hope this is goodbye." Meanwhile, in "Dead End Road", you'll get lyrics like "And forever ain't that long, when your smile's stuck in your head like a pop song, all you think about is death, your dirty head has gone unslept, for way too long now." And, in a song like "Hell Yes", you'll find the lyric "Bless me dark Father I have sinned, I've done it before and I'll do it again." Reading these lyrics while not set to music does them no justice, I realize. Most of their lyrics aren't complex, but are very effective when combined with the chord progression they happen to be executing at that given moment. The Trio's lyrics are the things I most identify with on any of their albums, and I continue to enjoy them to this day. // 8
Overall Impression: In "Remains", you get a taste of everything. Satanic songs, political songs, depression songs, F-you songs, and a few extra live songs just for your listening pleasure. Admittedly, when I bought this album I already owned every song on it, so it's nothing new to me. However, for those of you that are beginning Trio fans or own only the main albums, this is a great addition to your library. Also, since the bonus DVD packaged with the CD includes all of the major music videos and several hours of the Trio on the road, those familiar with all songs on this album may still want to pick it up. The varying music on the earlier part of the album may throw off some beginning Trio fans, but with luck the catchy, lyrical-driven songs will pull them back in and keep them along for the ride. It was also nice to see "Warbrain" established on an actual Trio album, instead of on a "Various Artists" compilation. It continues to be one of my favorite Trio songs, and perhaps the best on this album, so if you're new to the Alkaline Trio, be sure to give it a listen. To be honest, I didn't feel that they needed to include their split albums on this CD, and they could have had at least one or two songs cut off of them (especially the split with One Man Army). However, this album is (of course) a must-own for any big Trio fan, as you'll get all of the rarities you've likely downloaded but never gotten on an album. The two disappointments I had with this album were 1. Poor track ordering, and 2. They didn't include the song Demons Away, which is an acoustic and piano track by Matt Skiba released on some obscure benefit compilation. Besides these two issues, this is an enjoyable listen with a lot of tracks that are bound to get stuck in your head for a few weeks. // 8