The Quietdrive Retrospective - Part 1 When All That's Left Is You
Part 1 – When All That’s Left Is You.
It’s no secret that I am a huge Quietdrive fan. Hell, the fact I am even doing this retrospective shows how much I enjoy and appreciate their music. For those of you who haven’t read the introduction to the retrospective, Quietdrive are an American alternative rock band based out in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Over the course of just under a decade, Quietdrive have released five full length studio albums, one E.P containing seven original tracks and a fan funded full length album of cover songs with most of their work being to a very high standard. So without further ado, let’s dive straight into this retrospective with Quietdrive’s debut album, When All That’s Left Is You.
When All That’s Left Is You is the band’s debut album and was released May 30th, 2006. The album is the only Quietdrive work that was released through Epic records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment. The album was a huge success and lead to Quietdrive touring with bands such as Paramore and All American Rejects. The album contains 10 tracks and has a relatively short run time of just over half an hour but, holy shit, it starts out with a bang.
Track 1 – Rise From The Ashes
Rise From The Ashes is the album opener and is a fist pumping, face melting, energetic as hell track which is guaranteed to turn any new listener into a fan. I may be coming off a little biased here as THIS was the song that got me hooked on the band, but sweet JESUS is this song good. From the pummelling, loud as hell intro to the fading guitar outro Rise From The Ashes is precisely three minutes of pure pop-punk perfection.
Rise From The Ashes opens with a thick wall of sound that hits you straight in the chest. The thick, distorted guitar sound melds perfectly with the symbol heavy drum crashes and this sets the tone of the song straight away. Instantly you know you’re going to be in for a good time. The heavy, riff laden, intro quickly fades and reveals the real star of the show here, the vocals. Rise From The Ashes was featured on NHL 07 and it’s easy to see why. The chorus is easily one of the catchiest on the album, if not the entire Quietdrive catalogue and honestly, I cannot praise this song enough, just go listen to it… RIGHT NOW.
Track 2 – Get Up
Second on the album is Get Up and is another standout track from the album. The soft acoustic introduction to Get Up serves as a great juxtaposition when compared to the bold brash opening of Rise From The Ashes. The soft, emotional vocals on the verses are a great showcase of Quietdrive’s range in sound. Seriously the vocals on display throughout the entire album by lead vocalist and songwriter Kevin Truckenmiller are IN-SANE. Both the range of the vocals and the amount of emotion that are entwined into each song is, quite simply, amazing.
Although the verses of Get Up are much slower than on the previous track, the same cannot be said of the chorus. The chorus fires the song into life and shows that even when Quietdrive tackle subjects such as a struggling relationship, they can still get you up and out of your seat.
Track 3 – Take A Drink
Next up is one of my personal favourite tracks from the album Take A Drink. Although being one of the shortest tracks on the album, the sheer singalong style of the chorus and quirky lyrical work make it standout. The start of the song lulls the listener into a calming, false sense of security before hitting you with one of the catchiest choruses in the Quietdrive catalogue. Seriously if this song doesn’t get stuck in your head for days after just a single lesson, then there is something wrong with you.
The guitar work on Take A Drink is also a highlight. Whether it’s the simple, gentle riff that plays through the verses or the chugging guitar riff of the bridge the guitar on this track really hit it out of the park. Hell, there’s even some shredding thrown in for good fun towards the end. The guitar work throughout the entire album is very good with guitarist Justin Bonhiver showing a range of guitar styles that capture the mood and tone of each song perfectly and for an eclectic range of songs such as this, that’s no easy task.
Track 4 – Let Me Go In
Let Me Go In is up next and is a nice change of pace and style from the chorus rich Take a Drink. The song starts off slow with a simple and subdued drum beat that really help accentuate the vocals. Let Me Go In is a sombre song about loving someone who doesn’t love you back and the subdued approach which the band take here really helps to create this tone perfectly. Add to that vocals that are almost dripping with sadness and you have one of the most emotionally charged songs from the album. This is also one of the first instances on the album where you can hear the added use of violins in the chorus. The use of strings is something that will feature heavily in future Quietdrive albums and they are almost ALWAYS used to great effect, as we will see in the next song Rush Together.
Track 5 – Rush Together
Rush Together is another slow paced song that is jam packed with emotion. The slow pace and beautiful lyrics all culminate with a huge crescendo of sound that blows the listener away. The drums on Rush Together are also a standout. Although for the most part the drums on the album are subdued and overlaid with thick guitars and vocals, they shine the brightest here. The drum work throughout When All That’s Left Is You by drummer Brandon Lanier are great. They help push each song forward without overshadowing the tone and mood that each song is trying to create. On Rush Together the use of the violin outro is used to a great effect and gives the song extra resonance and meaning that is a great way to round of the first half of the album.
Track 6 – Maybe Misery
Starting off the second half of the album we have another personal highlight of mine Maybe Misery. This is one of the faster songs on the album and the chorus is catchy as hell. It’s around this point in the album that you realise Quietdrive show an amazing talent of writing some of the catchiest chorus’s around. Quietdrive show this talent on many occasions on When All That’s Left Is You. Almost every chorus is catchy and, even on the slower songs, brings an exciting energy which helps to keep the album fresh and interesting. After a couple of slow songs Maybe Misery slaps you around the face and is a pure shot of adrenaline.
Track 7 – I Lie Awake
I Lie Awake follows and is unfortunately, my least favourite track from the album. This is not to say that the song is bad, it’s just very middle of the road and a little bit... meh. The slow pace loses the momentum gained from Maybe Misery. Again, this is not to say it’s a BAD song it just doesn’t bring anything new, fresh or exiting to the album. I feel as though this this is the only song on the album where the band play it safe and, on such a strong album, it sticks out a little.
Track 8 – The Season
The Season is up next and is one of the more light-hearted tracks on the album. The lyrics are a real highlight here with lines such as “Give me a reason, to pull off your T shirt” being some of my favourites from the entire album. The lyrics throughout When All That’s Left Is You are pretty great, and tackle themes of love, lost love and desperation. For a debut album Quietdrive introduce these themes in a mature way and never let them get too heavy or drag the overall tone of the album down. Tales of heartbreak and lost love have never been so catchy.
Track 9 - Time After Time
Next up is the runaway success of track that is Quietdrive’s cover of the Cyndi Lauper track Time After Time. Back in 2006 this song was a huge hit for the band. Their cover of the song was ranked in Billboard top 100 for a staggering 24 weeks, and it's easy to see why. Taking such an iconic song and adding an alternative rock twist, was a move of brilliance. Quietdrive’s cover has seen much acclaim and has been used in many pop culture references such as 2006’s John Tucker Must Die, the 2008 remake of Prom Night and was even used for the official WNBA’s “have you seen her” ad campaign. Quietdrive’s cover brought the track to a new generation and it sounded AMAZING.
However, although the song garnered public attention, I feel as though its popularity was a blessing and a curse. It infuriates me that THIS is the only Quietdrive song that many people have heard. Yes the track is good, maybe even great, but there are many more original songs which I WISH people knew about. Don’t get me wrong, without this song Quietdrive may never have gained as much attention, I just wish it would have been Rise From The Ashes that everyone heard, or Take A Drink but hey… I’m probably just knit picking. Another minor gripe I have is the placement of the song on the album. To me this should be the final track of the album and it amazes me how it isn’t. This leads onto the final song off When All That’s Left Is You.
Track 10 – Both Ways
Both Ways is the final track from the album and is a polar opposite to the opener. Both Ways has a simple acoustic guitar and slow drum beat that is a great bookend track for the album to juxtapose Rise From The Ashes. The soft electric-acoustic guitar mixes perfectly with violins and strings in the chorus that help add a bittersweet tinge to an otherwise upbeat and happy album. Although personally I believe that Time After Time would have been a better album closer, Both Ways is a solid way on which to close the album.
Overall When All That’s Left Is You is a stellar debut. Although the album has many standout tracks, such as Rise From The Ashes, Take A Drink, Maybe Misery and Time After Time, the album gets weighed down by the amount of slower paced songs. When the album is at its best, it’s full of energy, life and a pop punk spirit that blows you away and for me this is where the album shines. Songs such as Rise From The Ashes and Take A Drink show a band full of confidence and vibrancy that is infectious. Although the slower songs aren’t bad song, in fact most of them are quite good, I believe it is the faster songs on When All That’s Left Is You in which Quietdrive are at their best. Next week is Quietdrive’s sophomore effort Deliverance and (spoiler alert) its bloody brilliant.