Life in Braille – Newyorkcity Ending

Life in Braille
Newyorkcity Ending

California’s Life in Braille have a lot of talent, and it was no big surprise that a label picked one of their three self-released demo tapes to record as the band’s first full-length. This band rocks, combining bits of metal, punk, pop, and rock that hints at the 80s, the 90s, and today. That being said, Newyorkcity Ending (not titled regarding the events of 9/11/01) is a 51-minute album that’s at least 20 minutes too long.
There’s quite a few hints that the band members grew up listening to Poison and Cheap Trick as well as U2 and Metallica. What they forget about those rock bands (except for Metallica, perhaps) is that the perfect length of a straight-ahead rock song is about three and a half minutes. By stretching these 13 songs out, they clearly show a lack of self restraint. On the other hand, they have tremendous production, fantastic vocals, intricate drumming, and power-chugging guitars that all make up the perfect formula.
And that formula works, at least to start off the album. Giving a nod to their penchant for drinking and sarcastic lyrics, the opener, “The Jimmy Stewart Overture,” not only has one of the best song titles I’ve heard this year but also kicks the album off on a rambunctious romp. Like the Get Up Kids, the band uses playful, warbling keyboards (used on the rest of the album very lightly, unfortunately) that contrast the upbeat guitars, rhythm, and soaring vocals. They keep things on a positive level with “D’Nealian,” a track that starts off sounding like vintage Samiam and yet goes into a Cheap Trick bop complete with handclaps. I get the sense the band is offering a knowing smirk, saying that while they take their playing seriously, they don’t take their music all that seriously.
Unfortunately, they contradict themselves with several songs that are ridiculously serious. “Why don’t you people get a life and get out of mine?” lead singer Matthew Jones practically screams in “Ode to Friends I,” and he later belts out the even more powerful So fuck you, I don’t need anyone” on “The Cubist.” Perhaps if they took the more emotional route throughout – or even if they spaced out their less serious tracks – I’d buy it, but when they get all melodic and start to sound like Third Eye Blind on songs like “Hand Me Down” and “It’s Easier,” I find them harder to swallow. Yet as bad as those comments may be, there really are no bad songs here, except for, perhaps, the trying-too-hard punk of “Rebecca Rebecca.”
The band’s last two songs are over seven minutes and six minutes respectively, and that’s too much. Because, basically, this is a rock band. Sure, there are elements of chugging metal-like guitars and melodic emo tendencies, but in short, this band wants to play loud and fast so people can drink. They’re far more talented than your average bar band, and that’s extremely evident. I wish they took their music more seriously, actually, but this album was originally recorded some time ago, and I think with it paving the way, better things are in the future. So although this is a flawed album, its best moments shine very bright indeed.