You Think You're Nickel Slick (But I Got Your Penny Change)
From Crib to Coffin
I Am Only A Man the third release from Seattle transplants Emery, shows the bands musical growth and expertise, continuing with the formula that brought them to a national stage, as well as thrust them into stardom. Eleven... more » pounding songs that run the gamut from rock, alt-country, jazz and in-numerable other influences that the band has cited throughout their career, this trend setter is at it again with I Am Only A Man.« less
I Am Only A Man the third release from Seattle transplants Emery, shows the bands musical growth and expertise, continuing with the formula that brought them to a national stage, as well as thrust them into stardom. Eleven pounding songs that run the gamut from rock, alt-country, jazz and in-numerable other influences that the band has cited throughout their career, this trend setter is at it again with I Am Only A Man.
"To sum up Emery's new album in one word: disappointment.
I will start off by saying that I am giving it 3 stars because it does not live up to the bands potential.
One would think that with the absence of a lot of screaming vocals (though it still exists in a few songs), Emery's lead vocalist, Toby Morrell, would compensate with the amazing voice he shows in the previous two albums (mostly in The Question). Unfortunately, in a lot of the songs, he sings off-key and the vocal melodies in themselves are nothing stellar. Musically, the album is another great disappointment. A lot of it is cacophonous and accompanied with digital sound effects. But it wasn't Emery's gradual metamorphosis into a more alternative/electronic band that bothered me. I can't even get through songs like "From The Crib to the Coffin" without stopping the track somewhere around 7 minutes because of the annoying din.
Comparatively, The Question, their second release, was filled with structurally complex songs that had astonishing harmonized vocals and a unique type of screaming vocalization which separated them from a lot of other bands. Here, the vocals don't harmonize well, are off-key (excuse my redundancy), and the screaming that is present in the album has lost its special sound; it sounds like they just picked some guy off the street and asked him to scream into the microphone.
To give you a better understanding of the album, here is a track-by-track review:
1. "Rock-N-Rule" - One of the better songs on the album. After a catchy riff (and a oddly placed horn at 0:17), it opens with some indistinguishable yelling vocals over some cacophonous guitars, which could have been effective if the vocals fit it better. The chorus is the redeemable part of the song with its catchiness. The worst part of the song in my opinion is actually the band's choice to echo "Lost my way" around 1:52. That bothers me because not only does it apparently not match the tempo of the song, it's off key.
2. "The Party Song" - One of my favorites on the album. It's catchy and has a little bit of what we heard on The Question.
3. "World Away" - Truly a disappointment because this could be an absolutely amazing song if it weren't for the ATROCIOUS interlude. Soothing vocals (the best on the album), slow tempo, catchy bridge and chorus. The interlude however, doesn't fit at all. It's obnoxiously loud and distorted with clashing guitars and offensive vocals. It frankly ruins a perfectly nice song.
4. "After The Devil Beats His Wife" - I read another review of this song where it was mentioned that the lyrics ruined the song. I wouldn't have noticed otherwise, but thinking about it, the opening line makes me laugh every time I hear it. "You want to swim in the river! I want to dance in the summer!" Otherwise, the song is pretty decent. The vocals are nothing spectacular, and is musically unimpressive in the chorus.
5. "Can't Stop The Killer" - One of my favorites on the album. It starts off slow with palm muting. Around 0:41, it picks up and gets more rhythmic. The bridge "You can't stop...can't stop the killer" stands out musically and grabs your attention with the vocal effects. The interlude is the most upsetting of this song, like World Away, in that the vocals are horribly off key ("So go ahead and RUN!") and the music sounds simplistic (possibly with the exception of the drum work). Otherwise, still a pretty good song. Lyrically, the song is depressing, as it appears to be about a man killing his girlfriend.
6. "Story About A Man With A Bad Heart" - For a song which includes in the lyrics the title of the album ("Finally, I realize I'm only a man") this song is depressing. Annoying intro, and annoying ending. The worst part may be the lyrics about his condom breaking in the chorus.
7. "Don't Bore Us, Get To The Chorus" - This may be my favorite song. It's catchy and is by far the easiest song to get stuck in your head with the "I do, I do, I do's" and the poppy/techno chorus: "I just want to be with you tonight." If you can appreciate the direction Emery is moving in at all, you will like this song. And the calm and steady vocals mixed with the screaming at the end of the song sounds like the Emery we all love and know.
8. "What Makes A Man A Man" - After a relaxing acoustic introduction, we get a head-nodding musical boost at 0:33. This song promises to be one of the better ones. While the vocals might not be the best, they certainly do get stuck in your head ("ooooh oooohh oooooh oooh I can't find anyway out"). This is definitely one of the best songs on the album.
9. "The Movie Song" - Not bad. While the chorus is catchy, the vocals in the chorus make me grimace, especially when he sings "It's truuuuueeeeeee." Other than that small complaint, the song is pretty good.
10. "You Think You're Nickel Slick" - After some "noise," the song picks up a catchy, generic guitar riff, but the vocals compensate for it. Overall, a mediocre song, but has it's head-nodding value.
11. "From The Crib to the Coffin" - This song was the most surprising with it's poor vocal performance, especially in the beginning where Morrell sounds dull and apathetic. The screaming in this song comes out of no where around 1:50, but works for the song. The problem with this song is it's 10 minutes long and doesn't do anything really innovative during its entire length. As I mentioned above, I usually can't get through this song unless by accident because the noise and cacophony is so atrocious that I have to stop the song around 7 minutes.
I hope the Emery has gotten out what ever they had in their system that made them create this album. The Question was amazing, and while I'm not asking that they not experiment, I would love for them to show how great they can be. "
Emery ~I'm Only a Man~
RaY RaY Pine | Philly | 10/04/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"If this were a paint by numbers art contest, Emery would have failed. If you've signed up to hear Emery's third full length album, I'm Only a Man, thinking that it will recall many shades of their two previous efforts, you will be disappointed. Emery forgo much of the signature screaming and aggression that had become staples of their sound, instead embracing the electronic ("Don't bore Us, Get to The Chorus) and the pure alternative rock ("World's Away").
Don't let the gamut of sounds chase you away though, as Emery have always had a penchant for tight song writing so, departing their comfort zone of screamo shouldn't scare you. What should make you wary is the lack of energy and overall intensity in the songs. While Emery is still capable of bringing their brand of emotional rock to life with tracks like "Can't Stop the Killer" and the album opener "Rock-N-Rule," they fall flat with the hammy "The Movie Song," and the bloated and ill advised "From Crib to Coffin" that clocks in at a monstrous 10:45 and feels just about every minute that long!
Hip shaking rockers like "The Party Song" and even the electro-rock infused "Don't Bore us..." have shades of greatness in them but the album, as a whole, doesn't yield a single track that makes you stand up and say "Wow." Emery have always had the wow factor; their great harmonies, intense breakdowns and, thick, atmospheric sections have always delivered in spades. I'm Only a Man leaves you wanting more and, for the first time, Emery fail to deliver it."
Ignore the screamo children; Emery is all that is man
Jon | Oregon | 10/13/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"People are giving this album poor reviews because Emery dropped the screamo/hardcore edge for this release. Ignore them. Emery has crafted their most mature album to date.
The music is similar to "The Question", albeit with greatly reduced screaming. Emery writes complex songs lacking a conventional song structure and utilizes a plethora of instruments to perform them. Whats great about this album, however, is the faint (but delicious) "dance groove" interwoven throughout the album ("The Party Song" and "Don't Bore us, Get To The Chorus" are the most obvious). Toss in some excellent throwbacks to Queen, and the best groups the 80s and 90s had to offer, and you have yourself an infectious rock album.
It seems emo/screamo children are incapable of appreciating an album written by a band who is exploring a fresh musical direction. Regardless, "I'm Only A Man" proves Emery is man enough to drop out of their comfort zone and churn out one of the best releases of the year (which also includes one of the most catchy songs of the year, "The Party Song"). Highly recommended."
A decent third album.
Corbet Griffith | Northwood, OH United States | 11/16/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"I'm Only a Man is Emery's 3rd and latest CD on Tooth & Nail records. For those of you who don't know, Emery is a alternative band whose been around quite a while. This record is somewhat different from their past efforts and I actually really enjoy it. While they've always had a keyboardist in a band, I felt they used keyboards alot more this time around. One thing different about Emery when comparing them to other bands is the fact that they have 3 singers. You'll also find that the members of the band switch instruments throughout their live shows. Some of my favorite songs on the CD are, "Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus," "The Movie Songs," and "You Think You're a Nickel Slick." The beginning of "Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus" is something I'd never expect from Emery and reminds me of something from a Queen album. The song also features a great techno-like chrous which is a huge suprise. Overall I'd highly recommend "I'm Only a Man" by Emery."
Jamos4184 | 10/06/2007
(3 out of 5 stars)
"First of all, let me say, that I am a big Emery fan. Have been since the release of The Weak's End when I hadn't even heard them before and didn't even like screaming, haha. Then, when The Question was released in 2005, I was pretty much blown away. Such a great album, even though there was less screaming. Let's face it, bands change and evolve their sound as they get older...and that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Unfortunately, I wasn't very excited for this album. After hearing "Don't Bore Us, Get to the Chorus" online, I was disappointed, even though I did enjoy "The Party Song", "Rock and Rule", and "After the Devil Beats His Wife". However, I have realized that you can't judge an album based on 1 song. Much of "I'm Only a Man" shows a side of Emery that hasn't been seen before. For instance, "World Away" and especially "Don't Bore Us...". I bought the special edition which has 5 bonus live/acoustic songs and a DVD featuring 2 concerts (1 acoustic and one from the Take Action! tour)and the making of the album. After listening to the album all the way through and watching the making of, it ocurred to me (in large part to an interview with Matt) why something seemed kind of off. Matt says that overall the majority of the songs only have 1 main guitar part, since the departure of Chopper on bass, they have had Devin and Toby switching on and off with bass, rather than guitar, so that only Matt is playing guitar now. Matt went on to say that since there was only one guitar they wanted there to be that open space of almost "nothingness" to just be there, where they had filled it in with more guitar parts in the past. I respect that they wanted to try something different, but I don't feel that it really works for Emery in this instance. I think the lack of a second guitar really takes away a lot from their sound, though they are still incredibly talented and creative. I truly wish that they would bring in a new bass player (not that Devin and Toby aren't good, that'd be a ridiculous thing to say), for the sole purpose of allowing Devin and Toby to go back to guitar and fill out their sound more. And one more thing...so what if they don't scream so much anymore?? Honestly, I don't understand why people made such a big deal about it even when The Question was released. Secondly, yes, Josh Head does screaming vocals in their concerts, but he hasn't recorded any screaming vocals on any of their albums prior to the deluxe edition of The Question (and that just on the acoustic version of Walls), but he finally does on I'm Only a Man, whereas, in the past Toby has done all the screaming for their albums.
I will say that this album has grown on me and I'm sure will continue to. Lastly, if you truly consider yourself a fan of this band (or any for that matter), when they put out a new album, don't expect it to blow away their previous release. In other words, don't hate this just because it isn't "The Question, Part 2". As awesome as that would be, these guys deserve more credit than that."