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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

TBS: Live From Orensanz

By Nick Carrabine

Before I start this review, I apologize for anyone who had to suffer through co-worker/blogger Cheryl Sadler's blog about New Kids On The Block and Backstreet Boys going on tour together. Two "bands" who are influential in almost single-handedly ruining music. Don't tell her I said this.

With that said, I'll be there.

As the original members of Taking Back Sunday head to Los Angeles this week to start recording their fifth studio album — their first together in more than eight years — the band awkwardly released a live acoustic record Tuesday featuring the band’s previous line-up.

The album, which was recorded from a December 2009 performance, features the New Again line-up, which of course disbanded back in April in favor of the return of original guitarist/back-up vocalist John Nolan and original bassist Shaun Cooper.

As Brand New’s lead singer Jesse Lacey once said on the song “Mixtape:” “I know that you’re a sucker for anything acoustic.”

Ain’t that the truth?

I think every band should be required to release at least one acoustic record and on Live From Orensanz, TBS not only tones down their original songs, they practically rework the majority of them to fit pianos, cellos and violins into them.

One thing is very apparent on this record, which wasn’t on the band’s last album New Again. The now departed Matt Fazzi can sing pretty well.

His vocals were hardly used on New Again, which is why New Again is generally everyone’s least favorite TBS album because it doesn’t feature the dual vocals that are present between lead singer Adam Lazzara and whoever is the back-up vocalist at the time (Nolan, Fred Mascherino) of the band’s first three albums.

With the acoustic record, the band performs two songs from the Tell All Your Friends era (“Cute Without the E” and the B-side and one of my personal favorites, “Your Own Disaster”) three songs from the Where You Want To Be era (“A Decade Under The Influence,” “One-Eighty By Summer,” “Set Phasers to Stun”), two songs from the Louder Now era (“My Blue Heaven,” “MakeDamnSure”) and four songs from the New Again era (“New Again,” “Carpathia,” “Everything Must Go” and B-side “Didn’t See That Coming.”)

Fazzi’s voice shines on the older songs where the dual vocals are featured. Lazzara has never really had a great live voice as his voice, even on recorded studio albums, is raspy, shaky and unclean (He sounds God-awful on the track “New Again”).

However, too little too late for Fazzi as he has already been kicked out of the band. Fazzi has already created a new band called Happy Body Slow Brain. For those keeping score at home, former members of Taking Back Sunday have gone on to create Straylight Run (Nolan and Cooper), Destry (Cooper) The Color Fred (Mascherino) and Terrible Things (Masherino).

At 11 songs, Live From Orensanz is short for a live record, but for any Taking Back Sunday fan, this is a must have and for any fan of acoustic music in general, it’s worthy of at least checking out.

If anything, it’s enough to hold me over until the band’s new record, which will be released probably in the early portion/spring of 2011.

Below are clips of the DVD that is only available through the band's Web site. I have not purchased the DVD, but it looks incredible.


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