Sound: Since 1999, the Take Action! Tour has been connecting with youth by spreading positive messages via contemporary artists. The creators have addressed everything from teen suicide to poverty over the years, with 2009's focus being DoSomething.org (a network of youth who have set out to inspire others and work with various charities). While the tour, founded by Sub City and Hopeless Records, is obviously the bread and butter behind the cause, 5 percent of the sales from the CD/DVD Take Action! Volume 8 will also be put towards the charity. This year's tour included the likes of Cute Is What We Aim For, Meg & Dia, and Anarbor, but there are several other acts included on the compilation that add a little more variety.
There is definitely a commonality to most of the acts heard on the CD portion of Take Action! Vol. 8, which is a good thing for anyone who wants to recreate the concert experience. The audio portion starts out with a spoken PSA from Cute Is What We Aim For, but the music begins immediately after with the same band performing Doctor. The groups featured on this year's tour do tend to lean toward the poppier side of the rock scene, but that also means there is no shortage of melody. Motion City Soundtrack delivers the energetic and catchy Fell In Love Without You, which is accented by their trademark Moog. Breath Carolina thinks outside of the box with Diamonds, a synth, dance-driven number that features computerized vocals a la Cher or Kanye West.
Halloween, a haunting acoustic number by Meg & Dia, is driven by the duo's cherubic vocals, which oscillate in and out of harmonies. Emery's The Smile, The Face is one of the harder tracks on Take Action!, providing a much-needed dose of screaming and distortion-driven riffs. Four Year Strong's So Hot, And You Sweat On It also offers a nice contrast, given the fact that it was a live recording performed acoustically. It would have actually been appropriate to hear a few more live numbers, if only because the compilation was created to celebrate the tour itself.
Blowing away the entire CD is actually the bonus DVD, which features a mishmash of unlikely bands. While pop guides the way on the CD, the DVD is all over the place and makes for a more fulfilling listening experience. It begins with an acoustic version of the same Motion City Soundtrack song heard on the first disk, Fell In Love Without You. While the first version is fit for the radio and MTV, the video version just feels more honest in it's stripped-down state. Later on you get a dose of stoner/progressive rock with Lay Me Back Down by Portugal, The Man, as well as the earthy, countrified instrumental The Day Hell Broke Loose At Sicard Hollow by Maylene and the Sons Of Disaster. // 8
Lyrics: Because there are so many different bands featured on Take Action! Vol. 8, you do get a pretty diverse selection of lyrics. However, it's absolutely true that emotions and relationships rule supreme on the CD portion. If you're not a fan of bands that overdo it with sentimentality, you'll likely want to go straight to the DVD disk. // 8
Overall Impression: In terms of musical quantity, the latest Take Action! Compilation is a pretty good value for your buck. It all boils down to your taste in music. If you were a fan of the bands featured on this past year's tour, then you'll absolutely find Vol. 8 a great purchase. If you don't care for powerpop or a watered-down rock sound, this CD/DVD is going to be less-than-thrilling. That being said, the DVD is shockingly good regardless of your musical taste, and it's that little bonus that ends up being the main attraction. // 8