Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

The Agency-Turn EP

March 1, 2007

theagencyThe AgencyTurn EP

Rock/indie/pop that is just awesome. Period.

Perch Records

In 1999, a little band from south Florida shook the very foundation of the indie rock scene. After releasing one full-length release (1997’s Rock to the Apocalypse) and cultivating a humble following, The Agency released their second full length CD Engines, which was a force to be reckoned with. Engines was a killer album with remarkable musicianship, impeccable song writing and a lineup featuring future all-stars such as Mike Marsh and Chris Carrabba, both now of Dashboard Confessional fame.

But other reviews are playing up The Agency’s relationship to Dashboard Confessional on a grander scale so I will leave it at that. The Agency deserves recognition on its own merit.

Much to the chagrin of the band’s modest but loyal following, The Agency disbanded in 2001, citing family issues and poor tours. The members continued to play music in various incarnations, with Marsh joining Dashboard Confessional and forming Seville. Dashboard Confessional catapulted into stardom, and Seville disbanded in 2003.

In 2003, The Agency got together for a reunion show, and realized that the chemistry was still there – by the end of 2004, The Agency began recording Turn. The recording process took quite some time, mainly due to Marsh’s commitments with Dashboard Confessional, but on February 9, 2007, the EP was released. The Agency was alive again, and the album whose sample tracks I had been salivating over on the band’s MySpace page were now mine to listen to anywhere, anytime.

With over seven years and the influence of interim musical endeavors between the two releases, it was to be expected that Turn would reflect an evolution or maturation – a concept that can be both frightening and enthralling for fans. There is a certain evolution of their sound, though it falls on the enthralling side of the equation.

Taken as a stand-alone release, Turn is an impeccable album. The same astounding musicianship is still present. The combination of Marsh’s soothing vocals, Chris Drueke’s powerful yet emotive voice, driving guitar riffs and catchy choruses just further carves The Agency’s niche further in stone with Turn. The production quality is as crisp and clean as ever.

And then there is the songwriting –which The Agency usually hits out of the park. With lines such as “I’ve got this picture of you/I think you have a faded copy too/If a smile tells a story/I must have really disappointed you” (from “Pictures”), you can almost see through the eyes of the songwriter. There are even still the remnants of that powerful sound that was definitive of The Agency. The opening track on the album, “Walking Disaster,” is very reminiscent of this powerful sound, as is “I’m Innocent.” Make no mistake about it; a transition has been made. The sound is more sophisticated and smooth, such as on “Mary Mourn,” and at times encompasses a country style, especially on “Better Than Yesterday.”

When compared to Engines, though, the album overall is a little more difficult to get into. Don’t get me wrong – I loved it at first listen, but it would be difficult – if not damn near impossible – to recapture the pure magic that was the Engines album. However, when compared to other albums in the same genre, Turn will win hands down, every time.

-Andrea Caruso

Sunshine131@gmail.com

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

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