Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

12 Summers Old-Hair Spray and Hand Grenades

August 1, 2006

12summersoldBand Name: 12 Summers Old
Album Name: Hair Spray and Hand Grenades
Best Element: Vocal Harmony, dynamics
Genre: Power-pop, Emo, Screamo
Website: www.12summersold.com
Label Name: Sub-Verse Records
Band E-mail: TwelveSummersOld@hotmail.com

Hailing from Belleville, Illinois, the band 12 Summers Old’s newest effort Hair Spray and Hand Grenades opens up with the fast paced track “Boy Like Me”. A sweet but misleading guitar effect carries the song into the typical chord
progression structure that has become all too familiar within the genre of music
12 Summers Old excels at.
Hollywood Vs. The Dragon” kicks off with a nice harmony between guitarists Mike Davis and John Randall. A taste into the screamo side of the band immediately after the vocals enter might worry the listener, but fortunately the unnecessary screaming appears very little in the rest of the song until the end. Instead, Brandon Turner’s vocals flow melodically over the lead guitar line that appears throughout the track.
The album moves over the generic “Night to Remember” into the heavier and lyrically deep “Hard to Be Cool” that contains very cool vocal harmony as well as a toe-tapping rhythm, despite its simplicity. A cleaner bridge in the song adds dynamics before building back up into a final chorus.
The album takes a turn for the emo side with “Perfect Love Song” featuring the pining vocals that are typical of the emo genre. It gets worse with ”Break Up Letter”, which, despite having a sweet electric guitar rhythm jumpstart it, is tarnished by screams later in the song.
Screaming permeates “Jon and Richie, B.F.F.” as well, though Turner’s big notes throughout the song help keep the vocal talent on the plus side. Musicwise, Davis and Randall bring out some amazing guitar tones near the end
of the song with clean and impressive chords.
“Phonebooks Don’t Leave Bruises” delves back into the world of overdramatic and painfully downer lyrics about failed a relationship that, again, goes hand in hand with every emo/screamo/powerpop band out there.
The next song on the album, “Moment’s Notice” has the distinguished honor of being one of the few (if not the only) songs with a decent intro. The song takes off into generic power-pop bliss; however, seconds after the song starts,
Turner sings more overdramatic lyrics about dying alone and forgetting about someone that almost puts the listener into again, a downer mood despite the fast paced and intertwining guitar melodies.
The album finishes with “Read Between the Lines”, a song launched into progression by everybody’s favorite scream. Vocal harmony in the chorus adds a nice touch of depth to the song, while a vocal/drum interlude adds great
dynamics to the song. A closer look at some of the lyrics though comes off as downright disturbing. “I’ll cut your eyes out and shove them down your throat,” sings Turner. I’m not going to say anymore about that.
Josh Seiffert represents on the drums, keeping solid time on the CD while bassist Jonathan Clark, though overpowered by the guitars a lot in the album, works well with Seiffert.
The guys in 12 Summers Old are excellent musicians; there is no doubt about that. Turner’s voice is flawless on the CD (though staying in tune live with that risky emo voice is hard to pull off), while the rest of the band flows well
together with several offbeat rhythms, quick switches between electric and clean sounds, half-time tempos, and well-done background vocals.
The problem isn’t the musicianship; it’s the style and songwriting. Eventually the album blends into a massive trend of simple chords with a complicated sounding lead over it, high pitched vocals, the occasional scream, and switching back and forth between clean and electric guitars. While 12 Summers pulls off that style well on this CD, it is a style that is just too talentless when it comes to songwriting. Powerpop/emo/screamo bands are a dime a dozen these days and it’s getting old.

12 Summers Old has some decent things going on. Unfortunately for them, they are the exact same things as every single band on Warped Tour.

-Erik Williams-
EndlessCreed@charter.net

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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