UG Team, on april 10, 2007 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Graduate should already have a strong backing thanks to the beauty of college radio. In 2006, its EP Horror Show was named the #1 most added in college radio, not to mention that the band has also graced the cover of CMJ Magazine. So are they worth the hype? The Graduate's debut full-length record Anhedonia does have its moments, but some may find it all a little too familiar. This is not to say that there aren't some inspired and technically interesting moments along the way, particularly from guitarists Matt Kennedy and Max Sauer.
The record starts out with what is probably not the best track on Anhedonia called Sit & Sink. Even so, it immediately showcases what are the standout aspects of the band. Sit & Sink will likely find a home in the world of radio or video airplay thanks to vocalist Corey Warnings excellent vocal harmonies that are used throughout. As far as the guitar work is concerned, this is more of a pop-rock band and there aren't any pinch harmonics or manic shredding. Rather, guitarists Kennedy and Sauer tend to play subtle, yet effective riffs that play continuously beneath the verses and choruses.
Surround Yourself is a mellower song and takes on a more restrained approach until the buildup at the end. There is an interesting guitar line that is played underneath the chorus, and it finally gets to stand out on it's own in the final seconds of the song. In fact, the guitar almost has a very cool computer-like quality at times and it's fun just trying to figure out how they tackled it, whether with effects or just skill. The guitar line is the highlight of the song because it doesn't necessarily fit with the overall ballad-like approach.
There is somewhat of a derivation of that same guitar riff in the following song Interlude, which fades in softly add slowly. Interlude works as a perfect follow-up to Surround Yourself because of the similar guitar styles, and it is further strengthened by haunting background vocals in a minor key that are layered on top of it all. The band really shines with this kind of experimentation and will hopefully do more interludes on the next album. // 7
Lyrics: The Graduate does have a heavy share of, dare I say, emo-esque lyrics, but they balance those out with some interesting songs like Doppelganger, which takes on a very different situation. Doppelganger features a scene where the singer seems to be unsure of his surroundings and uses dialogue to convey his confusion. Warning sings, And a stranger cried out, 'What am I doing here?' I'll be damned, you brought the muscle in! It's a pretty puzzling scene, but the different lyrical format makes it one of the most intriguing songs on the record.
Surround Yourself is one of tracks that delve into love and introspection, and the themes may grate one some listeners' nerves. Warning sings, On our walk Saturday; You said you might not stay; If you had a chance to see how your life would look; With love for someone constantly -- would it still be me? Although some might find them a bit too sentimental, there are still plenty will appreciate these candid, emotional lyrics. // 8
Overall Impression: The Graduate will most definitely attract it's share of fans with its radio-friendly repertoire (and it already has). At times that means they can sound a bit too much like what is already out there, but with unique little additions like Interlude (which is exactly that and has no words) the band proves that it's not afraid to take few risks.
Vocalist Warning has a very pleasing voice and excels in harmonies, and in many cases that ability makes the weaker songs a bit more attention grabbing. Guitarists Kennedy and Sauer deserve the most credit for taking the album to a different level. They do succeed at creating several memorable moments along the way, and the band will hopefully bring their work even more into the forefront come the next release. // 7
hurleydude77, on july 04, 2007 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Graduate finds it's niche right in the center of what is rising in popularity today, a blend of pop-punk, alternative rock, and indie. The three characteristics are all in equal measure, producing a mature and in several ways unique form of the catchy, youthful teenage pop-punk model. As such, in reference to their first EP which was produced in a style aimed at this immature group of music, the production on Anhedonia is strikingly different, steering them in a more general rock direction that is deeper, thicker, and more true to their individual sound. Corey Warning's vocals are on a plethora of different styles from song to song. "Sit and Sink" demonstrates a pining, pained sound that fits the lyrical meaning well; "I Survived", "Bet It All", and "Justified", the three most upbeat, pop-punk songs on the album are all sung with the optimistic, catchy, and fun formula native to the genre; "Better Company" demonstrates a cool, smooth, and classy know-it-all attitude; "Stay The Same" is sassy and powerful with hints of a raspy tone on the higher notes; and as if that weren't enough for Corey to prove his adaptability and skill, he goes all out on the ballad "Surround Yourself", with a raw and heavily emotional sound that also showcases his immense range. Corey is easily one of the most versatile and talented vocalists in modern rock music, and it is this characteristic that will gain The Graduate respect in both the pop culture and in the teenage pop-punk underground.
Musically, everything stands out. Guitarists Matt Kennedy and Max Sauer are a phenomenal duo rare to be found in bands today. Matt often adds unique and catchy leads which add to the pop-punk dimensions that accentuate the band's fun side, while Max commonly and skillfully makes use of delay in his riffs to smooth out the edges and thoroughly expand the band's indie/ambient side. Jared Wustenburg isn't your typical "I'm not a musician I'm just in this band to party" bassist either. His parts rarely are as simple as following the power chords, and although they are a melody of their own, they don't stand out too much; they fit smoothly in the collective sound and provide the thickness that bass is made for. Then, after moving past the cunning use of synths where appropriate, you still find excellence in the drums. Innovation is key when it comes to creative juggernaut Tim Moore, and the drums play the largest part in keeping this band from being stuck in one genre, as they are a lot more thoughtfully written than your typical pop-punk beat and fill formula. If I had any criticism at all for the band's music, it's that the collective songs with all the parts together sound a bit cliche at times, but taking into account some interesting chord progressions and the many indie traits that make this band unique, that flaw becomes invisible. // 10
Lyrics: It is obvious Corey writes to have a meaning in every song, and puts the full force of his emotions into them. Although this is highly respectable when compared to the pretentious majority of filler lyrics, he still has a ways to go before the transition from good to great in lyricism. The lyrics will likely be loved by the pop culture, which rejects dense and intricate songs and appreciates only raw, powerful messages (which Corey has). But on the underside of pop-punk, these fans appreciate lines that are bitter, ironic, cheeky, cunning, stylish, and sometimes metaphorical, characteristics shown by the likes of Jesse Lacey (Brand New) and Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy). In other words, for this scene it's not necessarily what you say it's how you say it, and Corey's lines lack this depth. Whether or not he will aim for the arts of this style in the future remains a mystery, but disregarding my own personal preference to this lyrical style, here is some analysis of a few songs. "Sit and Sink" has a message of taking a chance on dreams that could make or break your life, probably written about the chance Corey took when he dropped out of college to pursue his aspiration for music in the band. The title line itself, "sit and sink", is a simple way of saying you'll lose everything if you just sit there and don't push hard to achieve your goals. Many of the lines seem to be quotes of what was told to him as he was making the decision or otherwise things he mulled over in his mind, and although the lyrics generally lack style they do very well to put you in the setting of being at the crossroads in your early adult life and choosing a treacherous path. He most fully emphasizes the fear of regret if he makes the wrong choice ("we don't want you to get older and tell them what you wouldn't have done if you were us") and his justification for not choosing a sure thing ("you've got so much to lose but I don't", "I know you don't think we can go, but I've seen the bright lights shine on less deserving men before.")
"Bet It All" expands on the lyrics of "Sit and Sink", seemingly taking place a few months after the chance he took, speaking of the shaky ground he stands on after giving it all up for the dream of a music career. It mostly speaks his grievances and worries, and contrasts the euphoric image of being in a band from the reality of hard work and no sure thing for it. The lyrics well express how he "bet it all and never folded" for "no steady wage and a cheap guitar". The song is capped off with a tone of remorse and regret-- "I know I'm a disappointment so why do you believe in me?" and the lyrics do a good job of showing the listener raw emotion. "Better Company" is better as far as style is concerned, as these lyrics showcase a sassy attitude throughout. Smooth, arrogant lines are apparent commonly, and he plays the role of the player who knows exactly what to do to make a girl fall for him. "Baby, you're too hard to break, but treat you right and you'll come back for me. Oh, you don't want to stay away, what suits you right is better company." The vocals match the mood and attitude perfectly, something Corey will surely become famous for. // 7
Overall Impression: The Graduate, though catchy and poppy, is a unique band that cannot be compared to any other. They are incredibly talented and innovative and will not surprise many to rise in popularity very quickly. Anhedonia is an excellent debut, because not only is it mature, but while most bands' first albums seem to be a cliche blend of the band's influences, The Graduate were able to immediately reach inside and find their own individual sound. Worth three times the money in my opinion, and I just can't wait to see what this band sounds like in their prime one or two releases down the road. // 9
Tazzlyn, on march 03, 2008 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Anhedonia is The Graduate's Freshman album and really creates a distinct voice for who The Graduate is. They make one point in every song on this album, their sound is BIG. The songs on this album follow a dynamic style throughout with huge sounds and sing along pop-ish vocals. The entire album, you feel like singing along, whether you know the lyrics or not. The songs are all well orchestrated, though their guitarist seems to love the dotted eighth delay setting on his pedal. You hear it loud and pronounced in nearly every song, though adds to their distinct sound. With the exception of the song 'I Survived', every song on this album will be easily identified as The Graduate. // 8
Lyrics: Typical lyrics, if you're looking for anything in depth and overly poetic, look elsewhere. They could be compared to you usual rock/pop bands. Most are based on romantic encounters, some are discussing other things. But most on relationships. Like Anhedonia, Sit & Sink, Surround Yourself and Better Company. Just to name a few. Though the vocals portray the lyrics in a way that many songs do, you want to sing them, even if you don't understand what the lyrics mean. With Matt Kennedy doing vocals with his wide range of a voice, they still draw you in due to his 'big' vocals. The lyrics are well enough thought out to not be repetitive or dull, but still are typical and based on the same thing throughout the album. // 7
Overall Impression: I stumbled upon The Graduate at the Warped Tour in 07 and found them to be one of the few good bands at the event. When I walked in the room, they were playing 'Interlude', which made me double-take. Interlude is the only instrumental on the album (with exception to a few 'ooohs' and 'aahs' in the background) and shows the dynamics this band can fulfill. Either way, I bought the album and began listening to it, seeing how not every song on the album was quite as impressive as Interlude, though many were close. Along with Interlude, the songs Anhedonia, Sit & Sink and Doppelganger were the most impressive songs on the album. I love the fact that this album drags you in immediately and makes you want to listen, another thing is that it doesn't make you lose interest after listening too much like some albums do. The musicianship in here is good, though nothing astonishing. A downfall to this album is the guitar repeating of that dotted eighth guitar pattern, it gets kinda annoying sometimes and the constantly romanticized lyrics. If I were to lose this album, I would buy it again, though I wouldn't bend over backwards or look too hard if I couldn't find it easily. // 9