I discovered these guys early this morning while I was preparing to work on my college essays, but the minute I heard them, I had to put my school stuff down and just absorb what these guys had to offer. A fresh blend of pop-punk and straight-laced hard-rock, Play It By deliver driving rhythms that pump your pulse with melodies that drive you insane with catchiness.
Out of San Luis Obispo, California, Play It By are a sick pop-punk/hard-rock quartet featuring Kyle Dozeman on lead vocals and guitar, Darrin Sarkisian on guitar, Danny "Dan-O" Pozzan on bass, and Ed Marshall on drums. These guys are seriously sick, and even before I get into their repertoire, I just have to say that their music is well constructed, and their playing is tight as hell. The curtain has dropped on winging it; these guys are professionals and they make damn well sure you know it. Though some of their new songs up on Myspace include "Movement Never Lies," "One Step Ahead (So Dance)," and "The Good Years," it is songs from their 2007 demo that instantly attract me, and the ones I want to talk about here. Now I don't know if the songs on the '07 demo were rough cuts, or professionally recorded in a studio, but whatever PIB did, it worked fantastically, and I hope that every other song they record follows suit in this style, because this is a sound that people could really, really dig.
I start my set-list with "Misery in Melody," a pop-punk serenade that fills my senses and blasts me through the clouds on a train of heart-felt vocals and ripping guitar chords. From second one, PIB is synched up perfectly, and as Marshall blasts in on the crash, snare, and toms, Pozzan takes up the pulse of the song, laying down notes that keep your heart thumping and your head moving. One of my favorite parts of this song is Marshall's drum roll right before I'm blasted through a pop-punk chorus by Sarkisian and Dozeman on guitar, as Dozeman's vocals blend elements of Fall Out Boy, Blink-182, and American Hi-Fi into the lace of a brilliant background. Everything about this song is right: Marshall's drums match Pozzan's bass so well it's like one wall of rhythm breaking down your door as Sarkisian's guitar notes highlight the highs of life in brilliant melody. Dozeman's vocals, meanwhile, take me higher through the stratosphere in sing-along phenomena, the perfect icing on an awesome cake. Two thumbs way, way up. The best first track I could listen to.
Track two is "Love Like a Horror Movie." Like the first song, "Love Like a Horror Movie" continues PIB's dabbling in pop-punk influences, but branches out a little more to the alternative-rock vein, incorporating an almost Angels & Airwaves/(+44)-like drumbeat (ironic, I know lol), and the song is all the better for it. With a chorus that bleeds melody into your ears, there is no way anyone with any sense of melody and pop perfection could not like this track. Pozzan is on his mark in this one, with bass lines that drive you through what feels like a brick wall, but you soon realize is Sarkisian's and Dozeman's tightly-locked guitars. All four guys work so well in this song, I'm not sure anymore if I like "Misery in Melody" better, and I loved that song. This is definitely one of the must-hear songs on the album, and clearly a song with the intensity to be a hit single.
The last track I listen to is "Shipwrecked," a more alternative song than the previous two had been. But don't worry, PIB don't abandon their pop-punk melodies for long, and as Sarkisian wraps us up in notes and progressions, Marshall and Pozzan provide a brilliant stage for the chords and riffs. Of Dozeman, what can be said, other than that his vocals are perfect, and, feeding into and out of Sarkisian's sick mini guitar solo, make this a five out of five stars song. There's no other way to say it; this song rocks. Period, end of story.
But that's not the end of the story for these guys. They're only just getting started. Soon to be moving up to San Francisco, California, Play It By are sure to make a huge splash in the coming months. Keep your eyes out and ears open for these guys, there's no way you'll be able to miss them.
Sounds Like: Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41, Green Day, American Hi-Fi
Key Tracks from 2007 Demo and 2008 Demo (respectively): "Misery in Melody," "Love Like a Horror Movie," "Shipwrecked," "Movement Never Lies," "One Step Ahead (So Dance)," "The Good Years"