Let me start off by saying I'm a huge Drive-Thru fan. Years ago I got hooked on the label because of acts such as New Found Glory, The Starting Line and Something Corporate... I eagerly anticipated each acts new releases and was hardly ever disappointed. Well that was years ago and unfortunately the label has digressed in recent memory. While releases such as "Life in Dreaming" by Hidden in Plain View and "Based on a True Story" by The Starting Line were good albums, neither lacked the lasting affects of previous Drive-Thru recordings. Combine that with Something Corporate frontman Andrew McMahon being diagnosed with luekemia, it grave a dim outlook for the future of Drive-Thru with no top acts ready to lead the label.
One day I checked out the web site and saw the advertisement for Houston Calls debut CD and immediatly thought of Starting Lines "Say It Like You Mean It" (to me one of the best pop-punk/emo recordings in the last decade). When I picked up the CD and began listening to it, I was thrilled to have a new drive thru CD that sounded like their classic releases, but at the same time disappointed there wasn't more to the CD.
I have to agree with most other reviews of this that a lot of the songs sound alike. Tracks (1,2,6,8,and 10) all have a similar arrangement that disappointed me in the beginning. The only reason I kept listening to the CD are because the other tracks stood out as excellent songs in my mind. Track 3 "Bob and Bonnie" is a new twist of writing a love song, telling a story of two unknown strangers falling for each other. While a ballad by lyrical content, the sound is much more fast paced that keeps you enjoying the message. Track 4 "Elephant and Castle" has an excellent guitar setting to the song and takes you through the story of a girl moving on from her hometown to chase a dream (this is one of those rare CDs where the title of the album defines what its about... all the tracks are their own story as one can clearly see). Just a great rock song. Track 5 "Amtrek Is For Lovers" is one of my favorite songs in recent memory. A true ballad, the chorus of "No joke... she say's I'll leave you. I never meant to treat you like this, I can't believe it. I'll give you three more chances then I'm gone for good. He swears... he's really worth it. Can't have time to show it, this routine is over as he says to her, it hits her like a ton of bricks." will have you rewinding the track over and over. The drum beat and guitar rhythms to go along this song are perfect, truly a special recording. Track 9 "A Line In The Sand" is a fast paced song of moving on. Definatly a rock song... the lyrics are repeated through most of the song, which is disappointing to someone like me who loves a good lyric more then anything else, but the chorus is excellent and the instruments carry this edgy anthem of lost love and anger. The CD concludes with track 11 "The Better Part of Valor" (seriously, what a great title for a track!). Took awhile for me to like this track for some reason, but now its one of my favorite. Lyrics are excellent "... if you still have a heart to steal then I'll steal it from you." and the drum beat is superbe. Although this track will sound alot like other bands (reminds me of Anberlin's "Paperthin Hymn" which is an awesome song and even better band), it differs from what the rest of "Short Stories" sounds like.
Yes a good amount of the tracks sound alike, but please don't think they are by any means bad tracks. They are poppy and upbeat, just repititious. I wanted to give this album 5 starts because the standout songs are so excellent in my opinion, but I simply can't because of the repitition. For the Drive Thru label though, this CD gives hope to their die hard fans that the label is returning to push out CDs that made them an icon before.