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A Band In Hope

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Album Review

After a start playing fairly ordinary pop-punk on their debut and an encouraging sense of experimentation on its follow-up, Oakland quartet the Matches don't seem to know exactly what they're doing on their third album. On the one hand, many songs draw inspiration not only from old-fashioned slickly commercial AOR hard rock (the fist-pumping roots of "Their City" and "We Are One" lead back to Bon Jovi) but also from current mainstream Top 40 paradigms. No kidding: the bouncy singsong pop of first single "Wake the Sun" could, with only the barest minimum of alteration in production style and arrangement, potentially be a chart-topping single for someone like Natasha Bedingfield or Jordin Sparks. Elsewhere, anthemic opener "AM Tilts," "Point Me Toward the Morning," and "Future Tense" are by the numbers commercial alt-rock sure to appeal to the style's core demographic. But as if in direct opposition to the rest of the album's grab for the brass ring, big chunks of A Band in Hope are almost shockingly unexpected, verging at times on just plain weird. The ballad "Darkness Rising," with its arrangement of solo grand piano and ornate, overdubbed close harmonies exploding into a bizarre martial kick-step climax, sounds like bandleader Shawn Harris has been listening to quite a bit of Queen and/or Andrew Lloyd Webber. Either way, it's kinda freaky, as are the woozy alt-folk psychedelia and deliberately bizarre, hiccuppy vocal affectations of "To Build a Mountain" and the truncated, inconclusive minute-long closer, "Proctor Drive." In this context, the two-minute pop-punk throwaway "Yankee in a Chip Shop," a gleeful Oakland/London culture clash set to the album's simplest and punkiest tune, stands out, in the likely unintentional sense that it's the only song on the album where the Matches don't sound like they're trying way too hard.

Customer Reviews

And The Matches Keep On Growing...

E. Von Dahl was heart-stopping. Decomposer was marvelous. But the newest chapter in the Matches' Musical Anthology of Amazingness, A Band In Hope, is positively groundbreaking. Yeah, it's different from anything they've done before. Sure, it takes a while to get used to. And for the fans that will hate these guys forever if they don't put out an album filled with nothing but "Dog-Eared Page" sound-alikes; I'm sorry, but our boys are growing up. This is the hyperactive pop-punk that first caught our attention, the experimental, energetic sound we now know and love, matured. Old fans and casual listeners alike will undoubtedly find something new to love in these fourteen tracks, each one of them uniquely well written. What's truly astounding is how much this quartet has grown over the years--in such a short amount of time, their sound has evolved remarkably. Of course, this doesn't mean they've lost what we fell in love with in the first place. Every track on this album has strong lyrics, beautiful musicality, and boundless energy and is amazingly catchy—exactly what you’d expect from the Matches. There is not a track on this album that ISN'T wonderful, but some stand out from the rest, for sure. “AM Tilts” is a triumphant opener of a song, complete with a total rock-out during the last 30 seconds or so. “Darkness Rising” is an unexpectedly gorgeous piano piece featuring Shawn’s be-a-utiful voice, the band providing a Queen-esque background chorus during the theatrical section at the end (this song is bound to save a life or two). “To Build A Mountain” might very well contain some of the best lyrics Shawn’s ever written. “Point Me Toward The Morning” is a powerful and hopeful tune. “Future Tense” and “Yankee In A Chip Shop” are punky, jubilant sing-alongs, and “From 24C” is beautiful--almost sickeningly, hauntingly bleak. For all they create, The Matches are immensely under-appreciated. This is the next step of musical evolution, you guys. Listen up.

just when I though they couldn't get any better...

The Matches are, in my opinion, the most talented band on the scene right now and the most under appreciated. It's humorous pop-punk with catchy choruses, but it also has a totally original and experimental sound to it. Seriously, The Matches are an incredible band, and this CD is nothing short of that, so just buy it, trust me on this one. And catch them playing on the AP tour this spring with The Rocket Summer and All Time Low. If there's anything better then their CD's, it's their live preformances.

Found Hope In Good Music.

I Never Write Long Reviews But Since is The Matches a Band that is different Yet So So Cathy an Amazing. Songs An Lyrics are %100 Great Always. A Band In Hope Aka "Abandon Hope" is an Album a little Different than the last Two but is as Good as The last Two Here are My Reviews AM Tilts 5/5 Their City 5/5 Wake the Sun 5/5 Darkness Rising 5/5 (Didn't Expect This One But Real Good Song) To Build A mountain 5/5 (Smart Lyrics) We Are One 4.1/5 Point Me Toward The Morning 5/5 From 24C 5/5 (Meaningful song) Clouds Crash 5/5 Between Halloweens 5/5 If I Were You 4/5 Future Tense 4/5 Yankee In A Chip Shop 5/5 Proctor Rd. 5/5 Overall 9.4/10 Nailed It Againnnn.... The Matches Keep Up The Good Work. Rael/NR


Formed: 1997 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

The exuberant Oakland pop-punk outfit the Matches initially formed as the Locals in 1997 when vocalist/guitarist Shawn Harris, drummer Matt Whalen, and bassist Justin San Souci were still in the early days of high school together. Frustrated with the lack of under-21 venues in the Bay Area at the time, the guys took matters into their own hands, seizing a local warehouse that had been converted into a webcasting soundstage and launching a series of shows called L3: Live, Loud and Local. The band,...
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A Band In Hope, The Matches
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