The Almost

Southern Weather

Written by: DY on 09/04/2007 13:53:03

Underoath drummer/vocalist Aaron Gillespie emerges from the screamo outfit with the debut album of his new side project, The Almost. Inspired by the legendary Dave Grohl and a passion for music and hard work, Aaron displays the full extent of his remarkable talent, writing and playing virtually every instrument on the album, whilst also fronting it as vocalist. The Almost allows Aaron to explore his less intense, more melodious urges, combining them with honest lyrics to produce a catchy yet meaningful album that will appeal to a broad audience. In several places similarities can be drawn to Taking Back Sunday, but at the same time the album doesn't really go as far as to cross the border from alternative rock to emo.

The record kicks off with the first single to be released, namely "Say This Sooner" which sets an energetic pace and immediately reminds us of Aaron's impressive vocal ranges reminiscent of the clean parts Underoath included in their "They Are Only Chasing Safety" album. "Drive There Now" follows pretty much the same fashion, but it is on the third track "Dirty And Left Out" where we really discover a new side to Aaron. The track has a distinctly southern/country vibe to it, much more so than any of the other tracks on the album. Lyrically the song is the deepest and most personal on the record, with Aaron (of Christian faith) expressing his own inadequacies and love for Jesus. Assisted by Jeremy Enigk (Sunny Day Real Estate) on backing vocals, its 3 minutes and 42 seconds are the biggest departure from Underoath you'll have heard from Aaron and yet it works more beautifully than you will expect.

"I Mostly Copy Other People" brings back the faster pace found in the opening tracks and includes some nice bass work by Kenny Vasoli (The Starting Line). The title track bears probably the closest resemblance to Aaron's old work with Underoath, albeit without the screaming and shows us that he hasn't lost his taste for that little edge to the music. Fortunately, not all traces of his rougher vocals are lost as Aaron frequently stretches his voice, resulting in the scratched vocals that you occasionally hear. In one of the highlights of the album, "Amazing Because It Is", Aaron returns again to the more personal, God inspired lyrics, beginning the track with slower, acoustic verses before launching into a superb full band and choir-backed rendition of the well-known "Amazing Grace" hymn.

Listening to the album, it's easy to forget that Aaron himself has composed and recorded the vast majority of the music, given that the standard is so high. Granted it's nothing radically new to the genre and there are no little segments which jump out at you as technical masterpieces, but the quality is anything but average and Aaron has crafted a nicely layered and textured group of songs all of his own abilities which is impressive to say the least. Aaron's expertise in the drumming area is obvious throughout the album with the above-par beats bursting into the foreground whilst maintaining solid foundations in the songs.

"Everyone Here Smells Like A Rat" is another one of the album's standout tracks but is followed by arguably the albums weakest tracks, "Never Say I Told You So" and "Call Back When I’m Honest" which although aren’t bad, just fall short of the level set by the preceding songs. The album is closed by a return to form in "Everything That Makes Me Sick", featuring some great guitar work. Unfortunately, despite it being a good track it doesn't really send off the record the way it should and seems to end rather too abruptly for an ending track.

"Southern Weather" is what happens when Aaron Gillespie is allowed to create an album entirely on his own. His personal touch is abundant both sonically and lyrically and forms an uplifting and enjoyable 40 minutes of consistently impressive melodic rock. The accessibility of the music means that The Almost are likely to enjoy success right from the moment the songs hit the mainstream airwaves, yet credibility is retained because everything about this album suggests an honesty and meaningfulness in its construction. It's obvious that the album is primarily a reason for Aaron to explore directions that he can't in Underoath, and the result is an impressive display of talent from a man dedicated to creating music.

Download: "Say This Sooner", "Amazing Because It Is", "Everyone Here Smells Like A Rat"
For the fans of: Taking Back Sunday, Thursday
Listen: Myspace

Release date 03.04.2007
Tooth & Nail/Virgin

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