The Panic Division | Songs From the Glasshouse (The Militia Group)

cd_panicdivColton Holliday sings with such passion and conviction that it's hard not to believe every word he sings. No matter the tone of the song or the subject of the lyrics, he is able to convey its idea.

 

 

 

 

 

 

When I first put Songs From the Glasshouse in my CD player, I anticipated and expected greatness. What I heard was much more.

The record starts off with an in-your-face instrumental that immediately kicks your ass. You're no more than two minutes into the record and already you're lying on the floor, wondering what just happened. This track sets the tone for the rest of the record—great modern rock songs, catchy hooks, with a dose of '80s-style electronica.

Programming extraordinaire Diego Chavez, lead guitarist Daniel Stanush, and frontman Colton Holliday all contributed samples and loops which drive the bulk of the record and give it the nostalgic '80s feel. Standout tracks such as "Here We Go," "Your Satellite," and "Polysix" (aptly named for the Korg keyboard the track was probably recorded with) highlight the band's ability to resurrect the '80s with style, doing it better than it did itself.

Speaking of resurrecting the '80s, TPD throw in a cover of Mr. Mister's single "Broken Wings." They were able to make the song more passionate and fill the musical gaps that are noticeably missing from the original, even authenticating it by using fake bass. Sorry, Richard Page, but putting your version of this song against The Panic Division's doesn't stand a chance. Maybe it was a bad idea to give TPD the license to record this song. Oops.

Creating their songs around the loops and samples the band writes gives The Panic Division something truly unique; a stamp they can call their own. Writing the rhythm parts after the loops and samples are created produces a truly solid structure for each song. Drummer Jesse Garcia and bassist Tavis Wilson are incredibly solid; their fills and lines are a brilliant foundation over which to lay the guitars and vocals.

Stanush's guitar work on this record is equally as incredible as his rhythm counterpart. He is one of the few guitarists in emerging bands who truly makes the guitar sing, giving the illusion of another vocal track, telling the story of the song in notes, not in words.

This leads me to what makes the tracks haunt you for days: the vocals of Holliday. Holliday sings with such passion and conviction that it's hard not to believe every word he sings. I mean, the vocals on the band's freshman release, Versus, were great, but compared to the notes he belts out on this record, he puts even himself to shame. No matter the tone of the song or the subject of the lyrics, Holliday is able to convey its idea.

The production on this record is top notch. The job of any good producer is to showcase the artist's strengths, not to artificially create them, and Holliday and producer Mack Damon did just that. Because of the loops and samples the record may sound a bit over-produced to some, and obviously those who say this haven't seen The Panic Division live. They are able to play these songs beautifully and as close to the record as possible without pulling an Ashlee Simpson.

I loved Versus, but one of its biggest downfalls was the fact that each track sounded similar, that without extensive knowledge of the songs it sounded like the same track over and over. With synth-dominated tracks like "Here We Go," "Polysix," and "Legacy" to Versus-esque rock songs such as "The Pieces that Mattered" and "Day You Left," it's hard to make the same argument with Songs From the Glasshouse. Each song makes its own unique contribution to the record, while not straying from the overall feel of it. The lyrics of the record are just as diverse, ranging from subjects of love to loss to sex. Holliday brings a story and maturity to each of the tracks, giving each a different identity.

Songs From the Glasshouse is one of the best (if not the best) summer releases of 2007. I love the direction the band is heading and I am already eagerly anticipating whatever comes out of them next. But for now, head to your local record store or hop online and buy Songs From the Glasshouse. It'd be inhumane to deny your ears of this musical treat. A | Tracie Tomlinson

RIYL: Shiny Toy Guns, Anberlin, U2, Acceptance

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