Artist: Automotive High School
Record Label: Self Released
Release Date: May 2012
01. Now or Never
03. Color My Day
04. Falling for the Strange
I tend to look at album artwork to give myself a sense of what the album will sound like. This is my “judge a book by a cover.” If the artwork is bizarre, my attention will float to the next album in line. This method has failed me many a time, with the weirdest of artwork containing the best albums and the most visually appealing artwork containing absolute gibberish. Yet for some reason, unbeknownst to me, I continue to do this asinine ritual which clearly works against me. Confusion and hesitation were what took over my thoughts when I saw Automotive High School’s album artwork for their May 2012 release, S/T, was just a black square. Not a black square on top of a white background, none of that modern art/geometry nonsense, the artwork was just black. Naturally I thought “this album will have some dark, heavy stuff, I may contemplate doing bad things after listening to this.”
“Won’t you tell me all your bad dreams, tell me all your secrets, ’cause I am falling for the strange” Which makes the smile that spread across my face so unexpected. No, not because I was right in thinking there was some dark shit on this album but because it was brilliance in the form of four songs. Comparable to the lyricism of the Beatles, the musicianship and sound of Oasis, and the zeal and enjoyment I imagine the Avett Brothers to have when they play “At the Beach.” Boy do I hope this band listens to these bands I just compared them to, otherwise that would look bad. Nevertheless, the three bands I just listed are all amazing in their own respects which makes the comparison of the utmost respect. And all three of those bands have the ability to create brilliant songs with attention catching melodies and lyrics. Automotive High School have the same ability. When you catch yourself tapping your foot and bobbing your head and smiling dumbly while listening to S/T, you’ll see for yourself why I made those comparisons.
Opening track “Now or Never” has this surf and turf feel to it. A feeling that makes you want to blast it at the beach, leaving you feeling happy and warm, with themes of young, carefree love running throughout. It’s not my colorful imagination creating the scenes I see when listening to this song, it’s the vivid storytelling ability Automotive High School have in their lyricism and in their execution. It is a catchy melodious song all throughout but it as it approaches its final chorus, there is a slow dramatic build up creating this tension, leaving the listener craving for more, craving a completed sated feeling. Automotive High School is able to deliver and gives just that feeling once the final chorus comes in, playing louder and singing with more emotion than before, “Now or Never” ends on a high note only to be followed by another foot stomper.
“There’s nothing worse than holding on. Nothing better than a brand new dawn”
Torin Rhodin’s voice takes on a softer approach during “Kids.” A muted effect is given in “Kids,” making sense in the sadder lyrical content of the song. It’s instrumentation deceives listeners. Giving a seemingly upbeat demeanor while almost melancholy and startling lyrics are sung. “I did what I did/My hands are not shaking with guilt” It’s clever what Automotive High School do here. With whispered verses and a chorus played much more powerfully following each other, downplaying the despairing subject matter.
My absolute favorite, the song that has me smiling from ear to ear, and makes me think of summer, “Color My Day” is the strongest song on S/T. There are layers and layers of skill and cleverness throughout “Color My Day.” What I assume to be clapping is dispersed oh so cleverly throughout the song, uplifting the song to new heights despite its already upbeat demeanor. It’s one of those songs you just don’t want to end and one that seems it would be such an experience to hear live. It’s catchy, rhythmic, upbeat, and everything you need to create a great song. This song will probably be my song for Summer 2012. It’s that good and I’m having trouble describing it because it completely puts you into the awesome world of Automotive High School. A world of delicious pop rock tunes and head bangers.
Can someone buy me a guitar so I can learn to play “Falling for the Strange”? I can sense a really bad cover of this song from me on YouTube coming in the near future…… Anyways! This album ends on a high note as “Falling for the Strange” does not disappoint in a closing song. Slower than the previous song, it continues to stay in the realm of Automotive High School. A realm of story telling lyrics, catchy melodies, quirky elements like whistling or clapping, and strong instrumentation. As the song ends, the instruments fade out, and Rhodin and Yagolnitzer sing together to end the song, singing “the rest will grow old/we’ll stay young forever.” I hope Automotive High School can forever stay in their musical abilities because S/T was and will continue to be a joy to listen to.
Consider your minds blown.
Automotive High School is Torin Rhodin, Greg Yagolnitzer, Brendan Walter, Brooks Jones.
Download the album for FREE at: http://automotivehighschool.bandcamp.com/