Review: The Company We Keep — Making Moves

Reviews / June 13, 2012

The Company We Keep shows potential with 7″, but must further develop sound

Mad Dragon/Boombox Generation

A bizarre back-alley percussion opens up “Right/Wrong,” the first track off The Company We Keep’s 7″ entry in the “Making Moves” series. Sounding more like pots and pans than actual percussion, the opening is a small burst of creativity from the pop-punk supergroup, and one which shows the vast potential the band holds. But unfortunately, that’s all it is: a small burst.

Therein lies the problem in the debut material from the talented group, which features Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack), Brian Southall (The Receiving End Of Sirens) and Branden Morgan (Misery Signals). Because with every spark of weird they manage to create, it’s followed up by the standard pop-punk sound, right down to the by-the-book hooks. And while this isn’t a complete damnation of the project — as the group certainly has enough talent to make standard sound pretty damn good — it is a warning. A future full length record has to bring with it a distinct sound, because if not, the risk is there to fall in line with the rest of the genre. And that would truly be a shame for a band with this much potential.

The group does manage to create a few of those unique moments, even if they aren’t able to completely piece them together. Southall, who is credited with writing all the music, provides an electronic touch in the background of each track, almost teasing the listener that in the group’s future, we may actually see it come to the forefront. In the previously mentioned “Right/Wrong,” the highlight comes near the conclusion, as the synth work finally blends in successfully with the group’s rock-based sound. In the second track, entitled “The Company She Keeps,” the electronic side of the band truly shines in the bridge, working together with some excellent vocal layering. And speaking of the vocals, Amy Brennan —  the only one without prior band experience — is up to the task of playing with the big boys, carrying a powerful voice that will only get more confident through the next recording session.

The collective skill is on full display in the most impressive song of the bunch, which strangely enough is a digital only cover of At The Drive In’s “Pattern Against User” that comes with the 7″.  The heaviest song of the three, the cover blends an extreme amount of distortion with some impressive work from Morgan on the drums and from Brennan on the vocals. It of course has the advantage of being an outstanding song to build off of, but give the band credit for really making it their own.

Sound Quality: The good thing about the Making Moves 7″ series is that they’ve had the vinyl format in mind right from the very beginning. They’ve obviously paid special attention to mastering the music for vinyl and it shows. The Company We Keep’s entry has a crisp, clean sound, which contained virtually zero surface noise. Southall’s electronic layering was even more impressive on the vinyl format, as the multiple layers became more and more audible with each successive listen. If this is what we should expect from every Making Moves entry, then I think we’re all in for a treat.

Packaging: The packaging is relatively simple, with just the sleeve and record present. No insert is given (and there really isn’t room for one), which was kind of disappointing, but the band did include some information on the center labels. I would have appreciated some lyrics to the tracks, but the overall package at least looks good, even if it isn’t too practical.

Extras: The record comes with a digital download, which features the digital only bonus cover of At The Drive In’s “Pattern Against User.” It’s not a phoned in cover either, as it stands as the best track of the three. No CD is included.

Summary: In The Company We Keep’s debut material, the band plants the seeds of potential with a few excellent moments. And while they’re not exactly able to connect those moments into complete tracks, they still appear to have a very bright future ahead of them. The sound quality displayed in the Making Moves series is impressive, especially since they spent much of their focus on the vinyl format.

Make Sure To Spin: “Right/Wrong” and “Pattern Against User.”

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Christopher Lantinen
Chris Lantinen is the owner and editor-in-chief of Modern Vinyl. Along with his modest collection of sad sounding records, he collects his share of soundtracks and previously adored indie up-and-comers. Chris is currently a professor of journalism and public relations at Edinboro University in the Erie, Pennsylvania area.

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