Live From Orensanz review by Taking Back Sunday

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  • Released: Aug 17, 2010
  • Sound: 9
  • Lyrics: 7
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 5.9 (30 votes)
Taking Back Sunday: Live From Orensanz
1

Sound — 9
It's always interesting to hear how different bands will utilize the ever-popular unplugged format. For some it might actually do them a disservice, but this isn't the case for Taking Back Sunday. Granted, the Amityville natives have released plenty of catchy, power-chord rich material that has clicked with Warped Tour crowds, but the latest album Live From Orensanz showcases the true talent and vibrant instrumentation behind it all. Recorded over two acoustic shows in 1999 at the Angel Orensanz (a New York synagogue built with a Gothic flair), the live acoustic record doesn't stray too far from the original songs all in all, but even stripping back the amplification allows the musicianship to come through a bit more effectively. Rather than going for a slower, dramatic opening a la Alice In Chains Unplugged, Taking Back Sunday opts for the energetic MakeDamnSure. Immediately the vocal power and clarity shines through more so than what you hear on the original recordings. It's one of many selections that are pretty faithful to the original arrangement, although it has a slightly mellower feel. New Again and Set The Phasers To Stun also somehow manage to deliver massive amounts of energy without the use of electrics. The one can't-miss moment of the latter track is when the usual electric lead (which usually has a somewhat sonic vibe) is replaced with a gorgeous, well-executed acoustic solo. The few numbers that are a bit more experimental and gutsy usually are the standouts in unplugged formats, and Taking Back Sunday has a few that are worthy of mention. A Decade Under The Influence/Lightning Song pulls the tempo back to almost a lull, with a gorgeous string section backing it all. The layered harmonies of Adam Lazzara and then-guitarist/vocalist Matthew Fazzi are much more powerful in the live version, and they actually never sounded better. Everything Must Go is another bare-bones arrangement (even more so than the original), which although one of the quietest numbers, will be one that lingers in your mind.

Lyrics — 7
Live From Orensanz features no new material, and you'll hear familiar titles like MakeDamnSure, My Blue Heaven, and Cute Without The E (Cut From The Team). The titles are always unique and a bit quirky, but the themes within the core songs generally do revolve around your standard relationship/love fare. The band is geared toward a younger audience in any case as you can determine from just listening to the masses of screaming girls in the background and the lyrical content is pretty much designed for that crowd.

Overall Impression — 8
When the band plugs in, Taking Back Sunday walks an alternative rock/emo/pop line that has certainly worked well for them over a decade. The acoustic format allows the band to focus on the core songwriting without relying on that rock persona that has earned them plenty of fans, however. There is plenty to be acknowledged on the album, whether it's the capable acoustic lead work of Matthew Fazzi and Eddie Reyes or the moving vocal duo of Lazzara/Fazzi. The band could have ventured into more adventurous arrangements, but for the most part Live From Orensanz still provides a fresh and enjoyable listen.

21 comments sorted by best / new / date

    HellFury
    First off: Your title misses the 'Z' in Orensanz I can find myself in your complete review. I liked the vocals, and feel they're less offkey and flat than the original recordings. My GF hates TBS for the awkward false notes, but i actually like the feeling and emotion that's put in the songs because of that. Orensanz made the singers put more effort in the emotion-bringing part, and they did well. I liked the cracking sound in Fazzi's voice. Different melodies in the lyrics were a bit too much in my eyes. I don't hate it, and liked some new keys in the melody, but all in all, a tiny bit too much. Guitar playing was good, solid. A few errs in letting notes ring, but nothing serious. Nothing fancy, but i don't care. The TBS guitar riffs truly complement the singers. Bass guitar had some fun riffs and an occasional solo that worked well in the 'acoustic' sense. Drums we're good, not so very different except the exclusion of a lot of crashes. The drums in Carpathia were awesome and are a prime examples of converting a song from a fast paced guitar shred to a steady, driving beat. Organs. I've never heard organs tie in so well and build up a cacophony as New Again. Violins/Violas are instruments that are really great for building up a feeling of... 'Pride', and with the long notes and backup of a drum splash rain really gave extra meaning to Everything must go. All in all this was an interesting take on the songs, but I'm really sad this yourney only took 11 songs... Wish there were more songs converted like this.
    Alle1992
    I really enjoyed the stripped down sound of this record. Like with All Time Low, I don't really like their "normal" songs at all, they only sound good in the stripped format. The string sections were often great here, and the cracking voices, layered harmonies bring out the best in the often well written lyrics. They are breaking new ground and should be thinking of breaking some more.
    MatimusX
    For starters, as has already been mentioned, it wasn't recorded in 1999. TBS hadn't even released an album at that point. Secondly, the song is called 'Set Phasers To Stun' not 'Set THE Phasers To Stun'. Anyway, here is what I really wanted to say: I think this CD is beautiful. Its breaking new ground for TBS, and I think they did fantastically considering this isn't the norm for them. I love the differences in the melodies from the original versions of the songs, and I actually think Matt Fazzi's vocals are a fair bit better than Adam's. They're clean, accurate, but still have plenty of emotion in them. I really like how they've made these songs acoustic properly, by reworking them and not just simply unplugging everything, in my opinion that shows real musicmanship (if thats even a word). I especially like the orchestral backing on the songs, I can imagine that gave the crowd who were there epic goosebumps, because I got them just sat in my room. I don't care at all if they autotuned, dubbed, or hired a school of mackerel to play all the instruments for them. Hell, that'd be one impressive show if they did. All that matters to me is the songs sound good. As for all these people saying its rubbish just because they happen to listen to different bands to TBS, whats the point? I probably listen to about 1% of the total bands that are, or ever have been out there, but I don't go posting 'YOU'RE FUCKING SHIT!!!' on reviews of the other 99%. I'd be wasting my life, and so are you.
    Vone
    The Bamboozle CD had some sounds that people wrote off as 'auto-tuned', while my strong opinion was that is was the singers voice, which is always cracking in the soft parts. Cracking, whispering, clicking: all sort of things mics don't really work well with.
    In comparison to the Youtube videos (and having been there that night) the vocals were definitely dubbed, some parts even cut out (the breakdown in Decade)
    HellFury
    wes_125 wrote: leo11x wrote: How about every good band out there! And what about #2? What band tune their guitar by ear during gigs? So far i know for every good band in concert there is a personal taking care of their instruments. And if someone, band memberor staff member try to tune a guitar by ear in a concert it should be done in a quiet room to avoid horrible mistakes. You're missing the point, the auto-tune is on Adam's vocals. It makes it sound very... fake. I'd rather hear a slightly flawed vocal line, people make pitch mistakes, it's not a big deal, at least it sounds real.
    I get your point, and I see that TBS's vocals are, even in the professional recordings, off. I just don't care that much, as I find it adds up to the emotion. Besides, TBS gets slaughtered left and right for not hitting all notes 100% correct, so for them it's a safe bet to use it. Like every other band out there. For example, not bashing, trolling, or trying to talk TBS right, but look at Linkin Park. Mike is right on the money most of the times. In the last few years he's taught himself to sing clearly, by ear. Chester though is a completely different case. Although I love his scream, it's - more often not - off, and his timing is awful. Whereas here, a live, re-mastered, re-touched recording, everything sounds good to my ears. But I'll listen into the auto-tune thing, since i haven't heard it yet. The Bamboozle CD had some sounds that people wrote off as 'auto-tuned', while my strong opinion was that is was the singers voice, which is always cracking in the soft parts. Cracking, whispering, clicking: all sort of things mics don't really work well with.
    thebuddybud
    leo11x wrote: How about every good band out there! And what about #2? What band tune their guitar by ear during gigs? So far i know for every good band in concert there is a personal taking care of their instruments. And if someone, band memberor staff member try to tune a guitar by ear in a concert it should be done in a quiet room to avoid horrible mistakes.
    You have no freaking clue what auto-tuning is. Its when you take someones vocals and digitize it with a computer software. Its mostly used when a singer can't sing to hit notes that the singer can not actually hit. Auto-tuning has nothing to do with tuning a guitar.
    guitarist41
    Not heard the CD, but they are the most boring and lackluster band that I've heard live. Mind you that was back in 2006 @ Taste Of Chaos.
    wes_125
    leo11x wrote: How about every good band out there! And what about #2? What band tune their guitar by ear during gigs? So far i know for every good band in concert there is a personal taking care of their instruments. And if someone, band memberor staff member try to tune a guitar by ear in a concert it should be done in a quiet room to avoid horrible mistakes.
    You're missing the point, the auto-tune is on Adam's vocals. It makes it sound very... fake. I'd rather hear a slightly flawed vocal line, people make pitch mistakes, it's not a big deal, at least it sounds real.
    leo11x
    How about every good band out there!
    And what about #2? What band tune their guitar by ear during gigs? So far i know for every good band in concert there is a personal taking care of their instruments. And if someone, band memberor staff member try to tune a guitar by ear in a concert it should be done in a quiet room to avoid horrible mistakes.
    TheReverend724
    I love TBS, but I never understood why they would make a live dvd with the lineup for New Again while they are trying to promote their new "original" lineup, from the Tell All Your Friends days. I didn't really like this. While being acoustic was cool, I just would have rather had a high energy, loud show to promote their upcoming CD and tour. Also, I really don't like Matt Fozzi. He just didn't fit well with TBS, IMO. Although, I really loved Fozzi's old band, Facing New York. Check them out!
    HellFury
    wes_125 wrote: From what I saw on youtube clips, this performance is auto-tuned left and right.
    1. Name a band that doesn't 2. I haven't heard, and so what? Do you constantly, even during gigs, tune your guitar by ear? Even if it is auto-tuned, it sounds good to me, a fan of TBS. In the end every band plays to make their fans happy, so they succeeded.
    wes_125
    From what I saw on youtube clips, this performance is auto-tuned left and right.
    Crymsonblaze
    McTWITCHIN wrote: all i can say is good on your GF for not liking them. they are SHITHOUSE!!
    You're an idiot. CD is great!
    HellFury
    McTWITCHIN : all i can say is good on your GF for not liking them. they are SHITHOUSE!! POSTED: 08/18/2010 - 07:20 am / quote |
    Listen. I'm open to correction, but finding TBS "Shithouses" is your opinion. Everything considered, everyone's taste is different. I hate Metallica, love Nickelback. There's another point to stumble over.
    maidenrules232
    Like with All Time Low, I don't really like their "normal" songs at all, they only sound good in the stripped format.
    yeah true that (: I really like this CD, it's just full of nice little moments where they've changed it up and added vocal flourishes and stuff, so yeah, this review was nice all in all. My favourite moment at the moment is when Adam laughs at the audience in Cute Without The E ha. x