originally posted on Saturday, 4 January 2014
The first time I heard of A Day To Remember was a couple of springs ago. I had gotten my tickets to see Rise Against live, and typically I’ll check out what opening acts sound like before seeing the band live, just in case. Thank God I did so. Immediately I was drawn to A Day To Remember. Just like I’m sure just about every fan the band has, I couldn’t believe the mixture of pop punk and metalcore. It was something I had wished bands would do so often but unfortunately to that point no band had ever done.
While typical hardcore punk bands incorporate screaming into their music, it really isn’t uncommon at all, no punk band does so in the style of A Day To Remember. They’ll have songs as fun and free as a band like, say, Blink-182, but then break into metalcore breakdowns almost instantly, and for first time listeners, unexpectedly.
Throughout four albums, the Florida band progressed their sound and writing, and subsequently their popularity, hitting its peak with 2010’s What Separates Me From You. Recently the band followed that album up with Common Courtesy, and they had a hell of a time with it due to legal reasons binding them from releasing the album when they wanted. Basically A Day To Remember wanted out from their label, but their label wouldn’t hear of it, the usual story.
City of Ocala starts Common Courtesy right where What Separates Me From You left off; a heart thumping, almost inspiring pop punk track that could most likely become an anthem that a live crowd could sing along with. This song is immediately followed by Right Back Where We Belong, continuing the feeling of the opening track and keeping an apparent theme of how the band started.
The intensity is raised with Sometimes You’re The Hammer, Sometimes You’re The Nail, the first metalcore fused song on the album. Doing the usual job of mixing metalcore growled verses with a clean sung chorus, accompanied by instruments turned up and distorted to fit the heavy atmosphere the song provides. I’m happy that the song doesn’t go into a complete cliché of a metalcore breakdown, not noticeably at least. Such, unfortunately, can’t be said about other songs on Common Courtesy. The songs following track, Dead & Buried, is another metalcore infused song. This time around the song is a little catchier at the clean vocal parts, however, this song does have the cliché metalcore breakdown that involves the same chord being played over and over with a slow but heavy drum beat behind it. The same could be said for Life Lessons Heard The Hard Way which ends with one of these breakdowns. The song itself however is much faster than most A Day To Remember songs.
Best of Me carries a bit of an alternative rock influence to it, particularly in its main riff. In fact, I feel that this song differs from most A Day To Remember songs in that it’s not so much a punk song. It is catchy and has the hooks of a pop punk song, but the music reminds me more of something that Foo Fighters would come up with.
The album has a few lighter songs on it. The first of them is I’m Already Gone is an acoustic song with electric guitars coming in about halfway through to emphasize the sound a bit, but not adding intensity to this soft and well harmonized track. I Surrender is another of the softer songs. It reminds me of a Simple Plan song. Unlike I’m Already Gone, I Surrender features a full band playing. An acoustic guitar is heard throughout, but it is an electric song almost all the way through. End of Me takes the soft side of the band and slightly raises the intensity with its dramatic overlaid guitars and its melancholy singing. This song also takes an alternative influence, but in more of a Stone Sour way.
Life @ 11 brings back the pop punk sound but is not a standout track on the album. The same could be said about The Document Speaks For Itself. Both songs have what it takes to be someone’s favourite song from the album, but that’s the best that I can say about them.
Common Courtesy was initially released exclusively on the bands website, as the band fought for distribution rights to release it physically and on iTunes. On the original copy of the album that was available through the website, the album ended with the track I Remember; a song that brought back the concept of the albums opening tracks in which vocalist Jeremy McKinnon sang of the bands inception and rise in fame. The song clocks in at a whopping 9:04, but that’s because at about the 4:30 minute mark the actual song ends and is immediately followed by band members talking to each other about what it was like when the band started.
I Remember is one of the best album closers that I can think of in recent albums. It truly does bring the album in full circle. However, on most copies of the album, I Remember is followed by three other tracks. These tracks are unofficial bonus tracks. They aren’t credited so but they were all added in, I guess sort of as an apology for the wait for the album. These songs are the very poppy yet catchy acoustic/electric number Leave All the Lights On, the pop punk track Good Things and the new, I guess official closing track to the album Same Book But Never The Same Page. Chances are if you get the album, these three songs will be on it, and that is a good thing because these are three of the best songs on the album. I do wish, however, that the band still put I Remember as the closing track. While Same Book actually does make for a good closer (despite its metalcore breakdown), the concept of I Remember remains what the last song on the album should be.
A Day To Remember hasn’t softened up at all, they haven’t come close to quitting, and they have most certainly matured as musicians. Common Courtesy really does stand on its own among the bands albums. On previous albums, if the band started a song in a pop punk nature, chances are at one point of the song there would be an increase in intensity, even if only for a verse, and the songs whole feeling would change. On this album, for the most part, if a song started off sounding like a pop punk song, it sticks to that sound all the way through, with the exception of The Document Speaks For Itself. And if a song starts off like a metal song, it would maintain that sound all the way through. Some people may not like that, but I feel it gives the songs on Common Courtesy their own identity. It may take a few listens, but the album does have its stand out tracks. I would say the bands previous two albums, What Separates Me From You and 2009’s Home Sick remain the bands best work, Common Courtesy should never be overlooked. I believe it to be a true stepping stone for A Day To Remember.
“Violence (Enough Is Enough)” – Released practically a full year before Common Courtesy, this track does perhaps the best job at mixing metalcore with pop punk. While it may have been a better idea to pick a song that is more pop punk sounding that metalcore seeing as how most of the album leans toward pop punk, I still believe this song would best exemplify how the band is still as heavy as ever, and still as catchy as ever. Better yet, this song is the prime example of how A Day To Remember have improved as song writers.
8.5 (Out of 10)
|“City of Ocala”||3:29|
|“Right Back at It Again”||3:20|
|“Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail”||4:34|
|“Dead & Buried”||3:13|
|“Best of Me”||3:27|
|“I’m Already Gone”||4:04|
|“Violence (Enough Is Enough)”||4:01|
|“Life @ 11”||3:22|
|“Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way”||2:17|
|“End of Me”||3:58|
|“The Document Speaks for Itself”||4:43|
|“Leave All the Lights On”||3:31|
|“Same Book But Never the Same Page”||4:04|