Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal review by Angels & Airwaves

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  • Released: Dec 18, 2012
  • Sound: 7
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 5.9 (52 votes)
Angels & Airwaves: Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal

Sound — 7
It's a strange time for Blink-182. The three of them continue to ride a wave of reunion hype that gets smaller by the day, most recently releasing a new EP to large indifference. You can't shake the feeling that they're becoming a thing of the past. So cometh the time for the side projects to stand on their own two feet, having never really done so before. It's been tough, but after four albums, two films and goodness knows how many other strange endeavours, we've finally gotten something really worthwhile out of Tom DeLonge's other lovechild, Angels & Airwaves.

"Stomping The Phantom Brake Pedal" is a double EP that takes a different look at some of AVA's recent output. The first and by far most enjoyable disc is called "The Score Evolved", which takes bits of the score from their 2011 film "LOVE" and dabs at them with a big electronic sponge. Translating the material from soundtrack cues to full, listenable songs is handled remarkably smoothly, and done mostly without vocals. The delicate pads, pianos and synth leads do a much better job of conveying the desired cosmic, dreamy sound than the usual guitar band. "Reel 5 (New Blood)" and "Reel 6" each move through three motifs, rightly balanced by the steady movement of the drum machines and never allowed to stay too long before moving on. The opening track, "Reel 2 (Diary)" is a longer exploration based off a single piano melody, but is equally well-structured, being guided through by the essential grooves of new drummer Ilan Rubin. The absence of DeLonge's voice for long stretches of the EP is helpful as well.

On the other side of the double EP we have five remixes of songs from the double album "Love", parts of which were used in the film "LOVE" (are you getting all of this?). The originals were, for the most part, pretty poor but it's a wonder what a well-handled electronic production can do for you and some of these songs have been significantly improved on, using the same tools as the first disc. "Surrender" (a hollow would-be anthem on "Love Part 2") has she'd its skin and become a moody little number, with swelling bass and busy percussion. If you liked the songs first time around then this will give you a whole different perspective; if you didn't then all the better.

Lyrics — 7
These are both laptop projects, where vocals are lifted from earlier material and dropped into the music where necessary. The content and meaning of the lyrics are much the same as they were in their original incarnations.

Overall Impression — 7
There's still a whiff of self-importance lingering around this whole affair, but it's been much stronger for much weaker music in the past so this has to go down as a marked improvement. I think what it proves is that AVA's fascination with space is best reflected when they work in suitable genres rather than overinflated delay-rock. Chances are normal service will resume with their next release but I'd call on Tom DeLonge to put the guitar in storage for a while and keep this stuff going. Even if the idea of him rocking the decks with a set of Dre Beats is faintly ridiculous, there's something to work with here.

29 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Are you being sarcastic or something? This EP is the worst thing the band has put out. That being said, I still kinda liked it. P.S I cannot even begin to describe how much I disagree with everything you wrote (People weren't at all indiferrent to the blink EP, LOVE I & II were awesome, and the remixes were certainly not better than the originals)
    " large indifference..." "The originals were, for the most part, pretty poor..." "a hollow would-be anthem..." What planet do you live on, man?
    AvA always put out good stuff but this EP was kind of meh, but the part about blink is ludicrous, their new EP is very solid and I'm looking forward to the next full length from them as well as AvA.
    Darth Wader
    I found this AVA EP to be downright horrible. I am a fan of Tom Delonge's voice. It is so different than anyone else out there, very recognizable, and I love to sing along to his voice. So this EP without much of his vocals and mostly just music became a yawn after awhile. And the other part of the EP with the remixes were poor imitations to the orignals, for sure. I always felt Tom's voice mixed with the music held a perfect emotional level that I look for in music. And I loved Blink 182's Neighborhoods, liked the EP, and I eagerly await a new full length album from both Blink 182 and AVA as their EP's do not do justice to the their full length albums.
    I thought I was going crazy because of how much I disagreed with most of the the review. "releases new EP to large indifference"? I was freaking pumped! According to all the comments, it's the reviewer that's crazy, thank God. I haven't listened to this EP, (mostly because I tend not to buy remixes ever) but I'll most likely pick it up from what I'm hearing!
    lol Jesus, people take reviews badly. I wouldn't worry about being crazy, but if your mind's in that kind of anguish reading other people's opinions, maybe..don't?
    It's a hyberbole, you might come across those many times if you continue spending time on the internet.
    I thought this ambiance was off the hook in this. Am I the only one who likes the mellowness of this? I could put this on in the car driving somewhere and just rock out to it. Ambient rock is awesome, and Angels & Airwaves keeps nailing it every time.
    It's like they're are trying to get out of a record deal it's so bad.
    As a huge AVA fan, I have to admit i'm finding it really hard to get into this EP. Not that its bad, but I don't know, its just not what I was expecting. Still, there's no harm in experimenting. And yes, the review was terrible.
    The EP gets better and better with every listen. Look, people will always compare the work Tom does with blink-182 - he's in that band. The build up to Diary is awesome and is definitely a track that could easily fit on We Don't Need to Whisper. It's a song that can be put nicely onto their best album. The other 2 instrumentals are well put together and nice to listen to. The remixes? Well they're remixes so you cant expect too much from them. Although they aren't as good as the originals they're still worth a listen and again are different from the music that AVA put together. We Don't Need to Whisper - Clean, delay, echo -best album to date. I-Empire - Lack of effects used throughout and focuses more on the normal sounds. Love Part 1 & 2 is a concept album which is still brilliant. Stomping the Pahntom Brake Pedal IS AN EP!! Not an album. This is something that will be releaed once Strange Times has come out. Bring it on.
    It isn't my favorite from the band, but I enjoyed the remixes and reels a lot more than Love part 1 and 2. I felt like with those albums the music got too predictable, a lot of it felt too alike and the originality and spark that the first, and mostly second album had, was mostly lost. With this EP I felt some of that spark again, the remixes felt for the most part inspired and fresh, while still being the same band.
    I agreed but dude, originals are way better than remixes, although remixes are awesome too.
    dafuq is space rock?
    It is where you spontaneously decide to go on an adventure with an asteroid in outer space screaming all the way while listening to dying foetus
    The review is rubbish, this is a great EP actually. I like the experimental nature of AvA and I prefer their overall output to that of Blink 182. This is great ambient rock music. I really hope this is a prelude to the next album. I just wish Tom would spend more time on AvA and that they would improve their website.
    Mark Tom and Travis were always weary different personalities. That's what makes blink 182 a great band. Every song has a different felling and other story to tell. AVA, +44 are great bands. But nothing is as much as original mixture as Blink 182. Listen to the old cd and you'll see that they matured the sound grew a bit butt the singergy is till there.
    The originals were pretty poor? Surrender is an amazing song. Their 2nd best song. Haven't heard the remix yet