Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Five Hour Flight with No Delays

As it's been a few days since I've updated (sorry guys, but life happens lol), I thought I'd get an early start on the weekend with a group that seems to have both extreme exposure and no exposure at the same time. Ironic, huh? Well I guess that's what comes from posting music on a number of different sites that all have different exposure numbers.
Anyway, enough of this. Enter Five Hour Flight, a pop-punk quartet from down south in Tallassee, Alabama. Now although I just moved from Atlanta to Boston for school, and spent a long while getting to know the rock scene in ATL, I must admit I really didn't believe that there was all that much running around the South rock-wise beside southern-rock and post-grunge. And yet here I find a group that  marches to the beat of a different drum, so to speak. Composed of Patrick Mullins (bass and lead vocals), Jordan Cunningham (lead guitar and vocals), Dylan Baker (rhythm guitar and vocals), and Clay Amason (drums), FHF has a unique sense of what they think pop-punk could and should be: namely a sensible blend of catchy lyrics and melodies married to crunk beats and rhythms. One of the things I love best about Five Hour Flight is their completely shameless acceptance of their pop influences. There are so many artists nowadays who try to move away from the pop label (though it clearly applies to their music) because it's apparently become "uncool" to have a song that is pleasant to listen to. I must admit, I too was for a long time adverse to pop because it equated in my mind the over-played single that is run to death and everywhere. Despite ruining the song (a truly tragic end-result, I'm sad to say) this over-playing just takes away from the credit and clout of the music, while at the same time producing legions of would-be fans who are sick of hearing the song everywhere they go (and they're right). It seems that pop has now become a stigma, and now if you happen to create music that is radio-friendly somehow you're a major corporate sellout.
Yet Five Hour Flight slide right by this little hiccup that seems to snag a number of artists who are almost afraid of the label. Case in point, though, are the couple of tracks that FHF have, as of yet, uploaded to their Youtube channel. Playfully strutting forward with tracks such as "Until November" and "No One's More Useless Than Aquaman," these boys from down south know what they're doing and prove it at every turn. "Until November" is a strong start for FHF: the catchy pop-punk intro tumbles right into the piano of the first verse, something I am not at all expecting, and I love it. But then Cunningham and Baker step forward with palm-mutes that build on the rhythmic taps and kicks of Amason on the drums. And as Cunningham's and Baker's guitars start getting louder, Mullins' strong smooth vocals shoot from the speakers, and it's clear that this guy knows what he's doing. His bass lines are solid, and lock nicely with the guitar riffs (which enter an odd though altogether pleasing progression after the second chorus) just before the piano comes in again so send off Five Hour Flight with a fantastic finish to the song.
If nothing else, no one can say that "No One's More Useless Than Aquaman" doesn't have a great title. To any comic fans out there (Marvel or DC, it doesn't really matter) you all get this joke, and FHF score points here with me for just genuine creativity and good-natured comedy. Yet the upbeat title of the song is augmented by a catchy and polished rhythm that I can't get out of my head. Mullins' voice here has a certain dynamic with the guitar riffs and bass lines that I can't quite put my finger on; all I know is that I like it. Amason's drums are scaled back here, and for those not paying attention, they can easily be taken for granted. But I'm paying attention, and I can hear that his playing is tight and coordinated, a strong backbone for the stop/start riffs laced over one another by Baker and Cunningham. Clearly a radio-friendly song that still has great summer-drive-with-the-top-down appeal, "No One's More Useless Than Aquaman" can only help these guys get to where they wanna be. Whereas some songs become a liability later on, I can't ever see this being the case here, and if I ever see these guys live (and I hope I will), this is one I'll definitely wanna hear.
At the end of the day though, I have to be quite honest: was it their originals that drew me to them in the first place: no. Their originals are fantastic, but those came later. No, I found the Five Hour guys completely by accident on Youtube as I was searching for cool covers of classic songs, and boy did I get a shock. When I heard Five Hour Flight's cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'," I had chills and was absolutely floored. Many have attempted to make a decent cover of this song, and many have certainly failed. I've even heard it argued that this song is so classic, so amazing, that covers simply don't do it justice. While that may be true on a number of levels, if covered correctly, there could be whole new dimensions to it, so I kept hoping I would find one. The cover on Glee was brilliant (I'll be honest I've watched a few episodes--it's just a good show), but it was professionally done and very produced. The cover lacked a certain kick, a certain messiness that would make different than anything I'd ever heard before. Yet that's exactly what Five Hour Flight do on their pop-punk cover of one of the most classic songs of all time: shake it up a bit. Beginning with a gorgeous note progression by Cunningham, I already have a sneaking suspicion that this is going to be something different. Then Amason starts to build in on the drums and Baker starts filling in with riffs that add the punk to the pop in this cover. Mullins' voice is perfect pitch and oh so sweet on top of the building instrumentation behind him. His bass lines add to the impending power of the song, but what comes next is what does it for me. That first high note comes, and Mullins hits it like he's been singing this his whole life. The result is otherworldly and wholly irresistible. At near 100,000 views on Youtube, I'd say that I'm not the only one who thinks so either. Five Hour Flight's cover of "Don't Stop Believin'" will soon be a classic in the punk underground, and I won't leave any FHF show without hearing this in an encore. The precision with which the Flight crew execute this masterful number is epic, and if any hope for the future of pop-punk exists, these guys are certainly a big part of it.
Bottom line? These guys have uploaded just a few songs up until now, but they each have something to cheer for. Kicking and packing punches that will have you jumping for hard-rock joy, FHF's songs blast out in crescendos of addictive passion and dripping in pop-polish. For those who yearn for more, Five Hour Flight are here, everyone take notes.

Sounds Like: All Time Low, Hit the Lights, Cartel, Fenix*TX

Key Tracks: "Don't Stop Believin'," "No One's More Useless Than Aquaman," "Until November"

Check out Five Hour Flight more at: and

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