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Almost Here

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Album Review

The Academy Is... blends the yearning vocals and tense slivers of guitar common to groups like Sleeping at Last, Hidden in Plain View, and labelmates/pals Fall Out Boy. However, the Chicago combo isn't as concerned about causing a racket as some of its peers, as the huge hooks of "Attention" and "Phrase That Pays" prove. William Beckett carries the latter's melody with his velvety, bordering on histrionic vocals, and though the electric guitars crash behind him, they never tread into roaring post-hardcore territory. No screaming alternate vocals, no jarring instrumental breaks or squalls of feedback. "Black Mamba"'s underlying urgency takes a turn for the jaunty in the chorus, and an acoustic guitar rattles in there, too. "Classifieds" and "Slow Down" are equally strong, switching up the tempos and mixing in harmonies so their edges stay soft even when the guitars get loud. This doesn't mean that the Academy Is... is somehow soft — no more so than similar, lyrics-as-confessional acts like Early November. It's clear that the songwriting team of vocalist Beckett and guitarist Michael Carden wants to keep Almost Here melodic and very accessible, and the pair succeeds throughout the record. "Checkmarks" features another powerful singalong chorus, "Skeptics and True Believers" moves along at a faster pace, and "Down and Out" kicks in on robust Midwestern power chords. The Academy Is... would benefit from more of this Weezer-derived bottom end. But the band's slick pop yen is impressive enough throughout Almost Here to make it a strong debut.

Customer Reviews

One of a Kind

Never have I head a band quite like The Academy Is... Some people group them with bands like Fall Out Boy and Cute is What We Aim For, because they were released by Fueled By Ramen. The Academy Is... has been labeled as generic, unoriginal, etc. I can understand how some people with untrained ears could see this in other Alternative bands like Fall Out Boy. However, there is no way that anyone could label the songs on this album as "sounding all the same." Each song on this album has something unique about it. You'll find yourself playing the CD over and over, and it never loses any of its appeal. I've had this CD since it came out, and I've probably played it the entire way through hundreds of times. It's one of my favorites, ever. Every song is different and better than the last. They are, in all, different than any other band ever. The lyrics are truly inspiring. They are not simply "emo." The band's lyrics are amazing. They relate to daily life and the struggles of relationships and other unexpected topics all in the same songs, without being confusing in the slightest. The lyrics are so specific and clear that sometimes it leaves you very emotionally touched if you relate to what they're saying, yet at the same time they are occasionally cryptic and open to interpretation, and I think that's what the band intended. I warn you, do NOT be fooled by this band's appearance. When I first saw a picture of The Academy Is... I acutally started laughing, because let's face it, the lead singer has a very girlish and weak appearance. When I put the CD in, I fully expected to hear a emotionless, weak, and downright sad voice. I was floored. Beckett has an extremely powerful voice that is one of a kind and left me eating my words. While most bands struggle through their first one or two albums, trying to perfect their sound, this is a near perfect full length debut album. Their new album is scheduled for release April 3rd of 2007, and I’m sure we can expect amazing things. Songs: Attention: Lyrically, 4/5. These lyrics are great, but they’re nothing special compared to the rest of the album. Musically, 5/5. Almost perfect musically, probably the song with the most mass appeal on the album Season: Lyrically, 3/5. The lyrics are clever and witty, but are really just about the band’s rise. Musically, 4/5. Very smooth chorus and verses. This is the song you put on repeat. Slow Down: Lyrically, 5/5. These lyrics are direct and easy to relate to, which makes for an intense and urgent song. Musically, 4.5/5. DO NOT let the nice, but not upbeat intro. fool you. The hooks and chorus that come after are insanely catchy. The Phrase that Pays: Lyrically. 5/5. This is my personal favorite lyrically on the album. The verse lyrics are so interesting and somewhat cryptic they’ll have you mulling over them for hours, and the chorus only adds to the urgency of the song. Musically, 4/5. The verses are very strong, and the chorus is catchy, making the guitar buildup that sometimes occurs in between as addictive. Black Mamba: Lyrically, 4/5. Again, like Season, clever lyrics, but only about the band. Musically, 4/5. The intro and beginning verses really launch the song into a fantastic musical start, and glides smoothly into the chorus, but there’s not really the best harmony between them. Skeptics and True Believers: Lyrically, 4/5. Direct lyrics that occasionally really hit the spot. Lines such as “So you’re selfish, and I’m sorry, when I’m gone you’ll be going no where fast,” really stick in your mind after hearing this song. Musically, 4/5. The beginning few lines are probably some of the most catchy musically on the album. The rest of this song isn’t that impressive, but you might find yourself listening to this song simply for that hook. Classifieds: Lyrically, 3.5/5. Here we have clever lyrics about something somewhat shallow. The chorus is somewhat redeeming however. Musically, 4/5. The verses aren’t particularly catchy, but the second becomes stronger towards its finish. The chorus has a very nice melody to it and is probably the highlight of the song, except for the unexpected bridge that occurs near the end of the song. Checkmarks: Lyrically, 2.5/5. These are probably some of the most “emo” and unfortunately, shallow lyrics on the album. Musically, 3/5. This is all in all my least favorite song on the album. Musically, it’s decent, but is absolutely nothing special. Down and Out: Lyrically, 5/5. This song is unique because it begins sincerely addressing a difficult topic, and towards the middle addresses something completely different in a far more cryptic way, but relates them together. Lyrically, it is a genius song. Musically, 4.5/5. I have a feeling many people will listen to the first 30 seconds of this song and pass it by. That is a mistake. The beginning is very pretty, but it’s the second half of the song that you’ll be listening to over and over. The chorus is amazing and probably the most catchy on the album. Almost Here: This is my personal favorite song on the album. Lyrically, 5/5. If these lyrics don’t connect to you the first time, you may never like this song as much as I did, but the lyrics are touching if they do and somewhat sad. Amazing lyrics. Musically, 4.5/5. The chorus is pretty solid, but the way the verses tempo speeds up and slows down while staying together keeps you glued to this song, and the last verse is quite interesting musically. Almost Here is a great album you won’t regret buying. However, you can get it for $10 at some stores, so you should probably get it there with the lyrics instead of off ITunes.

buy this cd now!!!

This cd is better than any other released this year. By far! If you ever even caught yourself liking a Fall Out Boy song or maybe Taking Back Sunday song you should get this album. The lyrics will make you laugh and cry. They are that good. You may of heard a lot of other Emo bands sounding like The Academy Is... but The Academy Is... does it better. Their sound may not be that origional but it is executed perfectly. William Becket's vocals are the best part of this album because they are so good. He sounds like he is pouring his heart out. If emo music, or even any music ever intrested you, you should at the very least try out some of the songs. Then you'll see my point

To Whom It May Concern

Attention: To whom it may concern... This is one of the best albums I have heard this year. Amazing attention to detail from such a young band. Great lyrics and even better hooks! Great from the get go and ends even better. If you want to rock out... then check this fulll length debut out for sure.


Formed: 2003 in Hoffman Estates, IL

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formerly in rival bands on the Chicago local scene, guitarist Mike Carden and vocalist William Beckett came together in 2003 to mark the beginning of emo-pop outfit the Academy Is... (originally named "the Academy"). Naming influences from U2 to Weezer to Pink Floyd, the duo added bassist Adam Siska (Beckett's classmate from high school), along with a second guitarist and drummer, to record 2004's The Academy EP for hometown label LLR Recordings. As luck would have it, fellow Chicagoan Pete Wentz...
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