Wednesday, January 1, 2014

A Day To Remember Common Courtesy

A Day To Remember
Maybe the best way to start a new year is by playing one of the better albums from last year. Common Courtesy wasn't only a triumph as an album, it was a victory for a band that took on the fight for its right to self-release what has grown into 16 tracks that dance between pop and hardcore.

They won and put out what many fans are calling their finest album, a culmination of everything they worked toward over a decade and fought over for two years. Common Courtesy is the perfect blend of pop punk, and metalcore — a style that everyone told the band would never work.

"We loved pop punk, we loved hardcore bands, and we couldn't decide what to be. So we said fuck it. Let's do them both." — Jeremy McKinnon, A Day To Remember to Absolute Punk

Even today, some people are quick to wish that they would lean one way or another. And yet, it's equally fair to say that if the band didn't put out tracks like the more menacing Sometimes You're The Hammer, Sometimes You're The Nail, it would only be a decent pop punk band.

Instead, A Day To Remember steps up its game on Common Courtesy to make the contrast even clearer as they drift back and forth between their melodic pop foundation and heavy metalcore breakdowns. They make the case for diversity in their lyrics too. They aren't exclusively emo introspective. They take action too.

It's easily heard in Sometimes You're The Hammer, Sometimes You're The Nail, which is as much a punch to the head as it is a reflection on a relationship. The lyrics scream resolution after a revelation, with McKinnon leaving you convinced that it's time to make changes and get right back at it.

They do. Right Back At It Again is a track that doesn't just scream about making changes in the face of being told they can't do something. It's a song that reflects on how many times they proved naysayers wrong. It's about action over attitude, right after a campy and creepy fairy tale open.

The album opener, City Of Ocala, also carries a similar theme as the band found itself in a place not all that dissimilar than where they started. They have to do everything that the label used to do for them. And they have to do it well enough that no one will lament the decision to go it alone.

No one will. While Common Courtesy isn't revolutionary, it does perfect what A Day To Remember does best. And this alone makes for a remarkably playable and addictive album with so many casual drifts and arrangement changes that it's nearly impossible to get bored with any of it.

By the end of tracks like Dead & Buried, all anyone can do is wonder how they managed to pull it together. Other standouts on the album include the growler Violence (Enough Is Enough), the hauntingly aggressive Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way, the quietly reflective I Remember. The bonus tracks, Good Things and Same Book But Never The Same Page, are both worth a listen.

The album ultimately splits evenly between ADTR fans who will relish the entire album, metalcore fans who will lean toward the heavier songs, and pop fans who will lean toward the lighter contributions. Even when it doesn't always feel cohesive, it does showcase their diversity and talent.

Common Courtesy By A Day To Remember Breaks 6.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

A Day To Remember consists of founding members Jeremy McKinnon (vocals), Neil Westfall (rhythm guitar), and Joshua Woodard (bass) along with longtime drummer Alex Shelnutt and lead guitarist Kevin Skaff. All of them play at the top of their game, with the best thing about Common Courtesy proving that they haven't even peaked. This album marks a new beginning.

Common Courtesy by A Day To Remember can be found on Amazon. The deluxe album is also available on iTunes. The CD can be ordered from Barnes & Noble. For tour details, visit them on Facebook. The band has a heavy tour schedule starting in the Netherlands on Jan. 24 and ending in Australia on March 3 before playing the Self-Help Fest in San Bernardino, California, on March 22.
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