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Never Be Taken Alive

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Album Review

Never Be Taken Alive leans toward the pop sound of emo, though there's plenty of punky grit on this collection. Chris Kasarjian is certainly the focal point of the group, singing lead and writing all of the material, while Adam Manning frequently chips in with harmonies. Kasarjian's vocals are a decent mix of ebullience and aggression with a slight spit. And what is it that sets the band apart from a lot of other twenty-first century pop-punk acts with moderately melodic songs about psychological struggle and reflection as young people find their identity? Not a lot, but Count the Stars do it reasonably well, and in a balanced fashion, sounding neither too pissed off nor too goody-goody to be playing so loudly. While most of the tunes seem grounded in relationship examination, Kasarjian's lyrics are non-specific enough not to be obvious, creating a mood of earnest conflict rather than clear-cut judgements. There's an air of painful wisdom gained through experience in these songs, which does, though, beg the question: where to go after absorbing that experience into your worldview?


Formed: 1995 in Albany, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Formed by singer/guitarist Chris Kasarjian and drummer David Shapiro in Albany, NY, in 1995 when both were 12 years old, Count the Stars didn't put out their first CD on a label until 2003's Never Be Taken Alive, which was released through Victory Records. By that time, the two had been joined by bassist Clarke Foley and guitarist Adam Manning. Prior to that, the pop-punk band had put out some music on CD on their own, selling upward of 5,000 copies due to their strong underground following. Count...
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Never Be Taken Alive, Count The Stars
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