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Genre: Pop punk, post-hardcore
Number Of Tracks: 13
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus is an LP by pop punk band The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus created about two years before their first major-label CD release Don't You Fake It.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
takenthecannoli, on may 10, 2013 5 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: Boasting a moniker that was literally made up on the spot and hailing from Middleburg, Florida, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus self-released what would technically be their debut LP (it goes something like "it sucks so we don't have to consider it an official release") at the height of the emo scene in 2004. Initiated by singer Ronnie Winter and guitarist Duke Kitchens, the band rose to international fame with the singles "Face Down" and "Your Guardian Angel", achieving considerable local fame (so says Wikipedia, for what that's worth) beforehand.
Prior to the glossy production of their major label debut, "Don't You Fake It", The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus were set firmly in the region of the quickly-rising (and even more quickly dying) pop-punk/emo genre. That means standard poppy tracks with basic chord progressions, a couple of slow tunes, and the occasional guitar-driven cut with perhaps some post-hardcore influence. For the majority of the record, the formula is akin to Blink-182's self-titled release without the maturity and self-awareness. RJA does distinguish itself from acts like Sunny Day Real Estate, though the standout moments are primarily incidental: harmonies, lyrical moments, and atmosphere. RJA rarely does anything consciously; they're just pumping demo tapes out.
The record opens with "A-s Shaker", an early cut of "In Fate's Hands". If the fun is spoiled in knowing the final version isn't much better, consider it time saved. Here, the lack of intervention on the part of production dollars actually lets the band intimate with considerable effectiveness. For as obvious as it might be to say that rawness drops jaws, RJA really sells its soul in exchange for a few extra bucks: the most ambitious moments also tend to be the least bold. "Home Improvement", "Getting By", "Kins And Carroll", "Twenty Hour Drive", and "Disconnected" are all standard pop-punk/emo with little extra fat, and they certainly stand out a great deal more than "Misery Loves Its Company" or whatever other crap ended up on "Don't You Fake It".
Speaking of which, there are a few other tracks the band would reconstruct: "Cat And Mouse", "Justify", "Face Down", "The Acoustic Song", and "The Grim Goodbye". "Cat And Mouse" is a standard piano-driven ballad (or the emo equivalent: a few measures of piano work followed by standard rock quartet). It's a nice enough moment and, frankly, much better than its major label counterpart. Guitar-driven "Justify" shares the spotlight, also leaps and bounds ahead of its over-produced brother. "Face Down" is more interesting, but perhaps less powerful. "The Acoustic Song", an early version of "Your Guardian Angel", is as bad as the final version, and to the same token "The Grim Goodbye" is still overlong and overly dramatic.
Among the strongest tracks are "Angels Cry" and "Love Seat", both of which only stand out on the record itself and not much further. The former has nice moments, primarily in mixing, but not to be overly simplistic does one need to dig any further than that title? Some of the aforementioned poppy tracks are fun, but the instrumental work isn't anything their contemporaries weren't already offering. Altogether, "The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus" is a fun first listen, but the fact that the band regressed, rather than progressed, should tip off anyone paying attention. There again, any fans of modest pop-punk/emo will be far more satisfied with this release than with "Don't You Fake It". // 6
Lyrics: And they all come tumbling down. "The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus" is at the core of everything wrong with the 2000s' take on emo. All the stereotypes are present, and abundantly so. "I'll be there for you through it all/Even if saving you sends me to Heaven", Winter ejects through his nostrils. "I can show you I'll be the one". Earlier on, "A-s Shaker" rants "I remember a year ago I was standing in the crowd/Waiting for my chance... To live again" and huffs "We'll be here 'til the end". The lyrical content is split into two segments: the first featuring at least one use of every cliche in lyrical composition, and the second being a load of diary entries. The advantage of this is, obviously, its ease in digestion. These aren't hard songs to listen to, and that appeals to a good chunk of the people this sort of act would attract anyway. Unfortunately for The Ridiculous Bandname Apparatus, the disadvantages are just as easy to spot: diary entries are transparent, cliches are transparent, the whole thing is transparent. Other pop-punk groups tend to use sarcasm, profanity, and humor to mask the song's intention. Blink-182, Green Day, and even Fall Out Boy make varied attempts. RJA doesn't have nearly the self-respect, it seems, required to do so. To some extent, it can be looked upon as honesty, but with a track called "Angels Cry", where's the line between earnest emotion and melodrama?
Ronnie Winter is bad. There are moments melodies and harmonies but for the majority of the record he is somewhere between the nose and the teeth. It ranges from bearable ("Angels Cry", "Getting By", "Justify") to insulting ("The Acoustic Song", "Face Down"), and that's about it. When those with the most vocal disdain for the genre refer to "every singer", this is the sound they're talking about. Range doesn't save him. Earnestness doesn't save him. Even occasional attempts at screaming ("A-s Shaker", "Face Down") do little to disguise Winter's moping gurgle. // 4
Overall Impression: It's difficult to predict, even from this release, whether The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus was ever deserving of success. Going forward (both from 2004 and present-day) they might pump out the occasional hit, perhaps managing even a stream of enjoyable cuts every so often. As ten years of history has shown, it probably isn't going anywhere. Therefore, anyone looking for the "best of" the band should go back, not forward. The self-titled release is, though weak, at least consistent. It doesn't drop out nearly as often as "Don't You Fake It" or, God forbid, "Lonely Road". Though Winter is as cold (heh) as ever, he is more bearable here than ever. The melodic moments are unique to this album, as are the harmonies and slight variation in track-to-track composition. This isn't enough to redeem it from being a shining example of why emo deserved to die, but it does stand as a fair advocate of raw, self-released pop-punk.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
Nirvana6722, on august 28, 2008 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (the album) is first, self titled album of the band the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus. It includes 13 tracks and was released in 2004. It features many early versions of songs that were included in their major label debut album "Don't You Fake It." Many just renamed or remastered. Some of the songs are rumored to be included on their next major album. The music style of the Apparatus is very dynamic. They include a wide range of sound. They have songs like "Cat and Mouse" and "The Acoustic Song" (Your Guardian Angel) that just make you want to tear your heart out. Then they have other songs such as "Disconnected" that make you want to get up and start dancing. // 8
Lyrics: Ronnie Winter, the lead singer, wrote all of the lyrics from this album. They were based on all real events that Winter has experienced. To describe the lyrics, they are very real and down to earth and just make you think. The music is your basic guitar, bass, and drums. There is a lot of double tracking also. Ronnie's voice has a great range. He can hit the high notes as well as the very low ones. His voice is suited perfectly for all of the songs. // 9
Overall Impression: Pretty much this album was a great start for the band. All of the tracks seem very well put together and proportioned. The songs are written beautifully and they flow very well together. Plus, there are many catch choruses and bass lines that can really get you hooked on the band. The most impressive songs on this album would be "Getting By" and "Kins and Carroll". Neither of which were featured on their major label debut, which is quite disappointing. The only downside to this whole record is that some songs are very roughly edited and you can not really tell what's going on. Other than that it is a very good record. If you listen to this one and you like it, I suggest picking up "Don't You Fake It" as well. // 10