Music Addict (Review): The Maine breakout, show true colors on ‘Black and White’
PWNZ Like: A Rocket to the Moon, Brighten, My Favorite Highway, the Downtown Fiction
Hailing from Tempe, Arizona, the alt-country band The Maine’s musical career has exploded since the release of their first full-length, 2008’s Can’t Stop Won’t Stop. The five members—guitarists Jared Monaco and Kennedy Brock, vocalist John O’ Callaghan, bassist Garrett Nickelsen and drummer Pat Kirch—toured the nation and abroad to promote the release for two years. Along the way, they established a loyal and committed fan base, kept satisfied through a constant stream of social networking, via Twitter, MySpace, Buzznet and the band’s personal website (wearethemaine.net).
Their slight country-flavored pop was well received by fans, but critics started having their doubts about the young band when they made a deal with their original indie label, Fearless Records, to also sign to Sire Records/Warner Bros Records’ imprint, Action/Theory Records.
After two years of waiting, the highly anticipated sophomore album, Black and White was released on July 13. On the disc, the Maine dig deeper into the country aspect of their music, the end result being a more aggressive, well-thought out solid album. The Maine embrace ‘90’s pop and classic rock, but this change shouldn’t come as a surprise for fans. The change in musical direction is apparent in the band’s cover of Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar On Me” last summer and the single “This Is Life”, and their not so secret admiration for rock heroes Tom Petty and Ryan Adams. For Black and White, the band decided to ditch Can’t Stop producer Matt Squire (All Time Low, Forever the Sickest Kids) for Howard Benson (My Chemical Romance, the All-American Rejects). Black and White’s appeal is no longer confined to pop-loving adolescents, but has a wide appeal to the old and young alike.
The opening track “Don’t Stop Now” is slow and deliberate, about being so deeply in love that you feel invincible and willing to do anything for someone you love. “Don’t Stop Now” displays a lovesick and dependent O’ Callaghan, whose breathy gruff vocals ooze honesty. The southern-tinged, A Rocket to the Moon-esque wailing guitars craft the mood of the song, evoking comparisons to Brighten’s Be Human EP.
Kirch’s steady momentous drums kick off the Maine’s hard-hitting single “Inside Of You”, best representing the band’s transition into a more mature sound. O’ Callaghan’s impassioned howling vocals spin a tale of lust and loss of hope, wanting something he can’t have. The song’s environment is tumultuous and powerful in nature, sure to make an impression on the listener. The guitars are sharp and heavy, melancholic and angry.
“Saving Grace” is Black and White’s sweet sung melody, where O’ Callaghan longs to live in a fantasy, where he can fix the irreparable aspects of his life, where memories of the love he shares with that special someone are enough to keep him content. “Saving Grace” is warm and loving, like Between the Trees’ material. The vivid, The Downtown Fiction-like lyrics of “Saving Grace” accentuate the impact of the song and its message to the listener.
I walk the fault line/
In a dirt field in the spring time/
I feel the wind start to remind me of you and the sweet talk on the sidewalk/
It’s true, all I know is…/
All we have is what’s left today/
Hearts so pure in a broken place/
‘Cause we are who we are/
Lovers lost in space,/
Searching for our saving grace,” O’ Callaghan sings.
Black and White reminds listeners why they became fans of the Maine in the fist place. The Maine is a band that spreads hope and love in a world that is dull and devoid of it. Black and White is an epic, timeless album, worthy of comparisons to Ryan Adams and Jack’s Mannequin, demonstrating that the Maine’s talent and ability should not be underestimated.
Download “We’ll All Be…” from Can’t Stop Won’t Stop live from San Antonio, Texas:
Catch the Maine on their first headlining tour, An Evening with the Maine, with This Century:
Download a pre-tour package from the Maine, featuring free songs from This Century and Austin Gibbs for free: http://www.altpress.com/specials/themaine_contest/