Advertise - Print Edition

Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Great Day for a Race rocks out at Brandeis

Published: January 27, 2006
Section: Arts, Etc.

Brandeis own Great Day for a Race, after much anticipation from those devoted Chums fans, released their debut album, All that Life Intends. To be honest, I have little faith in college bands in general, and they are prone to writing trite and hackneyed songs about lost loves and nostalgia played with 2.5 powerchords and predictable guitar solos. They also usually fit into the tired mold of the guitar, bass, drums trio. I was relieved when I found out that the band was in fact made up of five: Ryan Pressman 06 on lead guitar, Jason Prapas 06 on vocals and guitar, Brian Schon 06 on drums, Mayank Puri 08 on bass, and, my favorite part, Rich Frank 06 on the sax. As a recent discoverer of the wonders of jazz, I find the addition of a saxophone to an otherwise generic-looking band is rather appealing.

All appearances aside, the music is a diverse collection that is nonetheless connected by a certain thread of sound. The Dancer has a sort of Middle Easternness that drew me in, which only increases with the haunting solo in the middle. I wanted to meditate and dance around the room all at once when I heard it. Luckily for my roommate, I didnt actually. Two songs later, however, Lost at Sea lost me, though not in the sea. I still cant quite figure out what about the song bothered me. The intro had promise, quick-paced with and the guitars giving off a watery, accordionesque sound, as though the notes were being squeezed out and swallowed up, very appropriate to the songs title. But as soon as the lyrics overlapped with the music, something went haywire in my ears. The melody itself was decent, though at times dragged out, but it just didnt match up with the harmony. It was too smooth for the quirky riffs.

Overall, the CD offers an excellent selection of laid back, mellow songs and rocking out songs. Prapas voice is clearer and more vibrant than Ive ever heard it live. It drove me nuts every so often. Sometimes a sustained note should just be held, not made elaborate. But mostly it grew on me. The music is the same way, except in Lines Crossed, which I still havent managed to plough through. Something about a nine minute song terrifies me. Its the War and Peace of Great Day for a Race songs and I have the attention span of a nine-year-old. If youre a fan of epic songs, this one is for you, but I just cant get my mind around it enough to like the song.

Despite popular belief, music is not entirely about the chords and overall sound quality. Lyrics, for me at least, are key. On the whole, the lyrics (all written by Prapas) impressed me. The opening song, Spotlight, impressed me the most. The premise of the song is that theres an old lady dancing in the streets in front of a changing traffic light, and the singer is fascinated by her. Lines like but my mind has not gathered itself and Im transfixed on her aged kinetic form dig holes in my brain, and I mean that as the highest form of compliment. My favorite lyric on the album was I dont even want to know the time, or whats left of my ice-cubes from Run Along. Its such a trivial detail, yet so perfect and poignant. Im a sucker for odd details. On a more disappointing note, not all of the songs were as interesting. Of course there were the unavoidable love songs, or anti-love songs, but the only line that made me actually cringe was faded fast like a photograph from Quarter Passed. I nearly cried when I read it. What happened to the ice cubes? The originality? Alas, no one is perfect.

If I were to take into account lyrics, musicality, and overall listenability of Great Day for a Races debut, Id rate them at a 62. But Im not going to tell you what its a 62 out of, because I have no idea. And I want to annoy you readers out there. All six of you.