October 31, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 35  

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Howie Day

Stop all the World Now

Howie Day is made for FM radio and FM radio is made for him.

Epic Records signed the 22-year-old, blue-eyed singer-songwriter from Maine after his independently released debut album sold over 30,000 copies. They whisked Day off to London, paired him with a symphony orchestra and brought in Youth, a producer who previously worked with The Verve and Dido. The result is Stop all the World Now, 11 slightly edgy pop songs about love, loss and personal growth.

The album's first single, "Perfect Time of Day," is classic soft-rock that builds from a quiet beginning into a richly-woven chorus before it fades out three minutes later. Day says the song is about following your own path. It's a shame he did not take his own advice on this album.

Day is clearly a talented songwriter and a capable singer. He is at his best during the few sparse acoustic moments that survived the album's production process. The jazzy overtones of the stripped-down "Sunday Morning Song" make it an immediate stand-out track.

The rest of the album has been produced into utterly inoffensive, completely predictable cotton candy for the ears. However, it's still catchy stuff.

With Day's clean-cut good looks, he's one rising star even your mother will love.

-Nicole Laidler

Crowned King

Break the Silence
Regicide Entertainment

Canadian alt-rock has become stagnant with painfully mediocre bands like Nickelback and the absence of good, new shit from the likes of The Tragically Hip and Sloan. Although the title Crowned King may be a little presumptuous, this band does breathe much-needed life into the struggling genre.

On Break the Silence, the Kings provide an eclectic mix of punk, ska, alt-rock and grunge. The most striking and distinguishing element of their music, however, is the quick and tight time changes perfectly executed by the powerful, rolling drums of Chris "Lammy" Lambert. The saxophone, trumpet and trombone also help spice things up.

Although some of the lyrics contain some pretty righteous activist messages, many resemble the work of that whining, self-indulgent jerkoff from Dashboard Confessional.

Despite some juvenile, quasi-romantic lyrics, Break the Silence is a tight album that rocks pretty consistently and in this day in age, that isn't a bad accomplishment at all.

-Colin J. Fleming

Death Cab for Cutie

Barsuk Records

The fourth record from mellow and poetic indie-popsters Death Cab for Cutie begins with the crash of "The New Year," a chorusless proclamation of disappointment with new starts; because following all that champagne, glitter and over-the-top celebration is the melancholic day after, in which it seems that nothing will change.

But this isn't the fate of Death Cab, who are rejuvenated after lead singer Ben Gibbard's emotronic side project The Postal Service. On Transatlanticism, the melodies are still strong and the imagery in Gibbard's lyrics have never been more delicate; like Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation or "Canadiana" stories, the songs act as a series of poignant moments.

The impending break-up on "Tiny Vessels" is dramatized by the grey clouds moving in on the Californian sun, while on the dreamy title track, the isolating distance between two people intensifies with the chugging, train-like rhythm section.

Uncertainty may be the theme, but the songs on Transatlanticism are assured in their vividness.

-Brian Wong



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