Sound — 8
Rock purists have given emo bands a tough time in the past, but My American Heart attempts to show that they've got a little bit more to offer than just your average pop-rock song on its latest CD. While the San Diego band does remain true to the sound that originally gained them exposure, they surprisingly take a few left turns along the way on their 2nd release Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather. While there are more than a few tracks that could be interchangeable with a lot of emo songs out there, the band also offers up a bit of blues and straightforward rock flavor along the way. The opening track Boys! Grab Your Guns unfortunately doesn't set a huge impression musically. It is a catchy, fun track that is likely to appeal to it's current fan base, there isn't a lot new happening in it. While it does showcase the strong vocals of Larry Soliman and thrives on it's catchy chorus, the band will explore a lot more interesting territory by the end of the CD. You're going to get quite a few tracks in the vein of Boys! Grab Your Guns on Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather, but it seems the quintet has an adventuresome side -- at least in terms of emo bands. Dangerous could fit into the traditional blues genre, with it's opening grooving bass line and restrained blues riffs. There are minimal effects on the guitars and the riffs are beautifully executed by Jesse Barrera and Matt Van Gasbeck. You don't hear a lot of pop-rock bands actually tackling the blues, and hearing My American Heart's solid effort is an extremely pleasant surprise. The band's approach is a simple one, but that works to their advantage. The band does seem to pull out more of the punches on the last half of the CD. There Are More Frightening Things is the edgiest song on the playlist, with a very cool riff that runs throughout that rarely lets up on the aggressive sound. Moving On is a fairly typical emo offering, but there is nice underlying keyboard section that is reminiscent of Motion City Soundtrack's work. The synth work isn't that prominent in the overall mixing, but it does add a bit more depth to the song.
Lyrics — 7
As you might expect, My American Heart does go to town writing about inner feelings and relationships. The Shake (Awful Feeling) is one of the first singles off the new CD, and it is exemplary of the love themes found throughout. Soliman sings, Oh, the brilliant mistakes that you seem to make always push me away; And now you're steppin' on my feet, steppin' on my feet, cause you were never on my side. The band does find new ways of wording songs about love, but it still might leave some listeners a bit bored. The standout rock song There Are More Frightening Things thankfully uses lyrics that match well with the music. Rather than dishing out tales of inner angst, the band turns the theme outward to deride someone who apparently has made quite a mess of his/he life. Soliman sings, They say man, let it die; But you'd rather walk away and pretend you strayed; But you walked away and you know you're crazy. My American Heart actually does a better job of phrasing the lyrics that deal with love or angst, but it is refreshing to hear something outside of the norm.
Overall Impression — 8
Hiding Inside the Horrible Weather won't appeal to everyone out there because there is still a strong emo feel present, but My American Heart should be applauded for it's attempt to try out a few different styles. Even with the more typical pop-rock songs like The Shake (Awful Feeling), the band does still find ways of keeping it interesting, whether it's vocal styles or changing tempos. The CD is worth sticking around till the end, which features one of the best tracks on the CD. All My Friends actually feels more like a track from one of Blind Melon's records. It's completely stripped-down, with only an acoustic, minimal percussion, and a bit of whistling at close of it. The track creates an instant impression, not to mention a satisfying -- and unexpected -- finish.