June 9, 2010

Shout it Out Release 6/8/10

Today was a day kind of like Christmas, only we're not lucky enough for it to be an annual occurrence. Hanson's fifth studio album, "Shout it Out," was released in the U.S. I feel like I'm cheating on a long-time relationship with "Underneath" by saying this about an album I've just "met," but I think I've got a new favorite. :)

My exposure to this album was very different from any other because I heard most of these songs in live settings the very first time I heard them. In the past, I've heard clips of songs, seen parts in podcasts, at least seen a tracklisting--but last May, I didn't as much as know a single title or note from the new album. The whole experience of hearing so many songs for the first time without any tainting from others' opinions was amazing. I don't think I can ever love any song as much as I loved the song "Use Me Up" in that moment. After hearing it live several times on tour and finally playing it directly from my own CD, I still can't love it as much as I did that first time. The word "Epic" is overused these days, but I mean it when I say that moment was epic for me.

Of the album, I heard ten out of twelve songs in live settings for the first time ever:

Waiting for This (Tulsa)
Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ (video shoot)
Kiss Me When You Come Home (Tulsa)
Carry You There (Tulsa)
Give a Little (Bamboozle)
Make it Out Alive (Tulsa)
And I Waited (Bamboozle)
Use Me Up (Tulsa)
These Walls (Tulsa)
Musical Ride (Tulsa)

Part of me thinks the release was a little less exciting knowing that I was only truly getting two new songs. But in a way, it was also more exciting after building up anticipation for songs I already knew I would love. After spending a good portion of my day blasting Shout it Out, here’s what I have concluded:

1) Taylor wasn’t lying when he admitted to being a fan of vague. The guys always seem to leave room for interpretation for most of their songs. It’s one of the qualities that makes them good songwriters, but the English major in me is always analyzing and looking for deeper meanings. Waiting for This has me clapping and singing while wondering exactly what it is that we’re supposedly waiting for. Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ begs to be danced to, but I couldn’t stop myself from submitting a question asking about what that “something” might be during one of the live streams (Thinking back, hopefully I worded it better than “Hey Zac! What is it that you’re thinking about?”—vague questions aren’t nearly as useful or appreciated as vague lyrics). During the same stream, we all explored a different side of vague as the guys joked about the vague nature of “Give a Little” and what exactly is being gifted, and what that catchy little “oh oh oh” is referring to.

2) I can dance. True, the album hasn’t given me any sudden skill in dancing, but it’s definitely given me some dance-worthy songs to help me come out of my shell. The Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin’ video shoot really helped me gain confidence in just letting loose, and now that I’ve got that, I think I’ll use it to jam out to Give a Little as often as possible. It’s really impossible to listen to either of these songs and not bust a move—or at least a body part while trying.

3) Isaac is 1/3 of Hanson. Maybe that’s why it felt like 1/3 of the songs were missing. The album is a little shorter than their usual, and the obvious lack of Isaac leads is a little disappointing. I love the songs that are on the album, but after picking out 5 at random to share with my mom, then realizing they were ALL Taylor leads, I started to miss Isaac even more.

4) Taylor and his piano were meant to be together. I’m a sucker for lots of piano, and this album definitely has it. The piano solo in Kiss Me When You Come Home keeps leaving me ready to clap in my car, forgetting where I am. Give a Little has a great hint of piano playing in the background, but I wish it was louder. Hopefully it will really stand out live. Me Myself and I is also a beautiful piano—driven song, and I can’t wait to learn it. And on that note, I also love the simple piano in Use Me Up. Zac’s more in my league as far as piano skill goes.

5) They need to hire me as a copy editor. ASAP. Someone went rampant with the commas. Most of the lyrics in the booklet read as though someone inserted a comma every time they heard a pause in the song. I know that's how it generally works in spoken English, but songs are a little different. For example, no comma is necessary in the line "You don't need, a Cadillac, 'cause I'll be waiting..." even though there's an audible pause at that point in the song. The formatting of the 2nd track is also a point of interest for a grammar nazi like me. In all of its publicity for the single and video release, it was written as "Thinking 'Bout Somethin'." Now, it's written as "Thinkin' 'Bout Somethin'" on the tracklisting on the back. And while the "G" is magically present inside the booklet, "somethin'" suddenly grows its "G" back every time it's used within the lyrics.

6) There are some notable similarities to past Hanson songs. I don't mean this as a bad thing, just simply something I couldn't help noticing. "And I Waited" immediately brought "Leave the Light On" to mind. They have very similar intros and guitar parts. The piano progression in "Kiss Me When You Come Home" is very reminiscent of "Been There Before." I thought this immediately even the first time I heard it at the SUSU recording in Tulsa. It's a little more subtle, but I also hear a guitar riff in "Musical Ride" that sounds VERY similar to a more obvious in "Thinkin(g/') 'Bout Something." Lastly, the beginning of "Me Myself and I" sounds very much like a Billy Joel song to me for some reason. I wouldn't say the whole song does, but something about the beginning definitely sounds similar.