Friday, December 17, 2010

Eric Shelby's Tape Deck Train Wreck

This is another one of those articles that just seems to have inspired itself. When I came across this new artist a few days ago, I thought I'd only check him out briefly before heading off to bed. Well, that certainly didn't happen. One song led another as I listened, and before I knew it, I had gone through the whole playlist, containing all 11 tracks that make up the album. I knew there was something different about this guy; if I listened to his entire album without realizing it, that's definitely a broad flashing neon sign that there was something special there. And when I went back the next day, I saw just what was lying beneath.
Coming out of Boston, Massachusetts, though now settled in San Diego, California, Eric Shelby is a refreshing breeze of pop-punk in a music scene that seems to have lost that special kinda groove he's selling. Recorded in a tiny home studio in Middleton, Massachusetts, Eric Shelby's debut album, Tape Deck Train Wreck, is a mix of punk rhythms and attitude and pop melodies that seem to come out of nowhere to rest permanently in your mind. One thing that I absolutely love about Shelby's debut effort is that there are no filler tracks here; true some are a little catchier than others, but all that depends on your taste and mood. The bottom line though, is that Shelby has crafted a simple, yet oh-so-effective pop-punk album that rekindles my love in the marriage of simple pop harmonies to punk beats. With backup vocals by Boston native and singer Lauren Vancheri, Tape Deck Train Wreck is certainly my pick this week for "album you'll play over and over again until your speakers explode."
Though tracks abound that will make your ears happy, the first song that really strikes me is "Abandoned Eyes." Shelby's guitar is simple and melodic, and in his vocals there's something addictive. It may be his vocal rhythm or the way his deep-set voice meshes so well with Vancheri's backing vocals, but whatever it is, "Abandoned Eyes" is a song I can't get out of my head, no matter how hard I try. I distinctly remember lying awake for about an hour after hearing this song, just humming it over and over in my head, and if that doesn't say single-gold than I don't know what does. One thing that Shelby certainly doesn't fall short on is his lyrical talent: this guy has lyrics that fit together perfectly like pieces of a puzzle, and when I hear them, I flash over to the lyrics of Owl City and Yellowcard. Funny and clever, yet clearly romantic, Shelby's lyrics paint a tapestry of vivid emotion and feeling. When coupled with Vancheri's backing vocals, the result is solid gold. 
At just over 2:40 long, "Abandoned Eyes" is anything but long. But for a song like that, a short timing seems to fit nicely. I then move to "Turn Up the Twilight" and "Envy," two great tracks that boost Tape Deck Train Wreck in the greatest ways. But it's when I get to the title track about halfway down that I'm simply floored. "Tape Deck Train Wreck" starts with a simple note progression that flies into a hot riff backed by great drums and bass. Shelby's voice is mirrored by Vancheri's, and the melodic dialogue that elapses between the two is just magical. The chorus on this song is something I can't get passed. Shelby's voice just goes up and up, and then down again, leaving me spinning in a flurry of harmonies and guitar notes. This is definitely the lead-off single in my opinion: Shelby can't go wrong with this one, and when listeners get a chance to hear this, they'll be tripping over themselves to hear more. Most certainly Shelby's finest hour, set against an array of other amazing tracks, "Tape Deck Train Wreck" has opened a whole new door for me in pop-punk and pop-rock. Clearly one of my favorite songs this month, this is one I'd immediately suggest to anyone looking for a song to play to set the mood. 
Wrapping up the album is "Serial Thriller." Aside from having a clever title I wish I'd come up with myself, "Serial Thriller" conveys the feeling of leaving behind all that once was for something new on the horizon. The best way to wrap up the album, "Serial Thriller" possesses great guitar with mild distortion and an interesting set of beats behind the backdrop. His voice steady and strong, Shelby finishes his album in a fit of brash grace and raw talent. What sounds like polish here is just the underlying talent and vision this guy definitely has inside him. If I were any sort of record company or radio station, I'd bet big on this guy, he's going places, there's no doubt in my mind. It's just a matter of time before he's opening shows with a who's who list of bands and artists.

Sounds Like: Smash Mouth, Busted, Blink-182, Good Charlotte

Key Tracks from Tape Deck Train Wreck: "Abandoned Eyes," "Tape Deck Train Wreck," "Serial Thriller," "Envy," "Turn Up the Twilight"

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