Sound — 8
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.
Lyrics — 9
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.
Overall Impression — 9
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.