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4.7 out of 5 stars 20 reviews from the U.S.

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Gatsbys American Dream ~ Volcano

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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars 20 reviews
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A band that you should know, but probably don't.... 18 Aug. 2005
By itgirl1928 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I really loved this album... the minute I got it I already had favourites. I came across the band through a cover they did on an 80's compilation cd and they just really stood out and I do not regret this purchase at all. Completely worth the wait. Great sound, pretty sweet lyrics... cannot say enough about this band!!!! This band will become your new favourite music crush...
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Try It You'll Like It 28 Aug. 2005
By J. Charvat - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Decided to order Volcano after reading a review in AP. At first I liked it, but wasn't sure if it would make the regular rotation in my disc changer. But after a half dozen or so listens it is definately in the rotation. This is an album with a lot of subtle nuances under the basic power sound. Very cool album and one worth taking a chance on if you like music that is straight forward with some layers of masterful musicianship. Sort of like Green Day meets Mars Volta
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shhhhhh! I'm listening to Gatsby's American Dream. 28 April 2005
By threestarsmash - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
It shouldn't be so easy to listen to intellectualism in punk clothing; past dabblings from others in the field generally yield ham-handed left-wing temper tantrums that more often than not result in fashionable, liberal use of the word "fag" in the name of junior high school flavored rebellion, anyway (ask Green Day). Gatsby's American Dream is a band that does not pander to fashion. Ironically, their sound is best mentally envisioned as a punk band with typical short attention span trying on different wardrobes while their geeky, overeager tongues yabber on about all the great books they've read and the great loves and hates they've lost and found.

If defying pop tradition strikes you as heresy, stay away from this band. (Those acid wash jeans look great on you, by the way.)

Whereas a more conventional, run-of-the-mill, good-but-not-excellent pop record has the potential to actually feel too LONG at the perfect pop record length of just over half an hour, it's only the greatest albums that suck the listener in so completely as to elicit a mental gasp of surprise when the room fills with silence. "Volcano" is such a record: an eruption of well-constructed, intelligent, literarily-informed rock music that begs to be sung along to... how often can one say that?

Subtle references on "Volcano" to other Gatsby's records -- modified lyrics, musical motifs, continuation of thoughts -- are fun Easter eggs for the dedicated Gatsby's fanatic to discover, but the planning that went into this and every other Gatsby's record is readily apparent even to a casual listener of both this and "Ribbons and Sugar," Gatsby's American Dream's 2003 release.

Lending an ear to the what's actually being said reveals references to works of literature ranging from Lord of the Flies ("Fable") to Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game series ("The Giant's Drink," "Speaker for the Dead") -- in short, not exactly a punk-influenced band's typical lyrical fair. Instead of girls, money and politics, Gatsby's scrounges from the dregs of human experience to sing about history ("Pompeii"), books and the devil.

Gatsby's interesting production values provide for plenty of room for all the instruments both to breathe and to scream; the guitars circle like birds of prey, swooping in at just the right moments, and they possess just the right combination of dirt plus volume to get the blood pumping without overpowering the all-important bass guitar, a tactic which separates these guys from their peers.

Ranging from soft strumalongs like "Fable" to playing it straight on "The Giant's Drink" (with added choruses -- a Gatsby's debut) to the signature finely-focused musical schizophrenia on "Shhhhhh! I'm Listening To Reason," the songs that make up "Volcano" are at once challenging and fun. Variety is the spice of life on a Gatsby's record, and for those who will hardly listen to a record without guitar, "Volcano" is a well-seasoned feast. The guitar work isn't Hendrixian in terms of technical prowess, but certainly in terms of unpredictability. Of course, this has something to do with the uniformly smart songwriting displayed by this band.

Standouts include the opener "Theatre," "Shhhhhh! I'm Listening To Reason" (fodder for some of the craziest air guitar this side of "Eruption" and just under a minute of the drunkest bar singing this side of the Dropkick Murphys), the ominous tremolo'd hover (bookended by a killer singalong bridge) of "Your Only Escape," and the closing firecracker-with-a-long-fuse "Loosing of the Shadow." The riffs in the second half are mean enough to make one's lip curl.

After so much posturing about this band's intelligence, the thing to remember is not that they're smart, but that smart people have more fun. This record is energized with pure DIY punk passion infused with an even purer "do something no one's done" indie aesthetic. If you can't hear the passion, you're deaf. If you won't dance to it, you're dead inside. If you don't like Gatsby's American Dream, well... I can make you disappear if I try.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Album of the Year. 26 April 2005
By Scott Weber - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Volcano is epic. Gatsby's American Dream has matured to an entirely new level. From start to finish Volcano will make you dance, it will make you re-think music, and it will make your jaw drop - not just in places, but for 33 straight minutes. The diversity of this CD is absolutely stunning. Gatsby's has fully maintained the trademark musicianship that made them so amazing in the first place. Some songs change time signatures and melodies like crazy, others shift directions completely in mid song, while others provide one unifying theme throughout - without choruses. Yet there are other tracks that contain choruses and radio friendly melodies as the band proves to us all that they are more than capable of writing pop music. The lyrics are insightful and deep, as throughout the course of Volcano the concept is revealed. The lyrics refer not only to a physical Volcano but also draw parallels to human emotion, boiling up inside us all, ready to erupt. The music and instrumentation itself is deeper than ever before, as many songs have countless dimensions. Every single time I listen to Volcano, I notice something different, something subtle. All kinds of percussion instruments are used as a supplement to songs, mainly claves as Gatsby's digs into some Latin influence. The depth to the music is only furthered by the countless references to past Gatsby's records. If you listen closely, you'll hear a chord progression from Ribbons and Sugar, or a strumming pattern from Why We Fight. You might even hear a lyric or two from earlier records. Volcano is complete in every way, shape and form.

The production is perfect. The drums and bass sound crystal clear and Nic's voice has never sounded smoother. The backup vocals are always at the correct volume, and the little things are brought out to just the right amount, as you can hear claves in the background. Bobby's guitar never overpowers Kirk's bass; in fact the two manage to be almost completely separate as each part is easily identifiable at any given moment. Casey Bates and Tom Pfaeffle took advantage of the long recording process and perfected every single part to the record. It's not overdone in the least, but there are no flaws as far as quality of sound is concerned.

The album begins with the anthem "Theatre." The theme of the Volcano is introduced immediately with lyrics like "Tonight the sky is painted..." A funky bass line that is very similar to "Snicker at the Swine" (Ribbons and Sugar) drives the verses forward into the first chorus on the record. It's an interesting gesture from a band that has generally steered clear of choruses on past albums to start a record off with a song that has one. Nonetheless, the song has traditional Gatsby's chord progressions and is full of energy. In addition, the song and chorus itself is incredibly catchy and could latch on as the album's first single. But don't worry, Gatsby's faithful. The following track, "Pompeii", is fast and very mathematical. The song changes time signatures many times with transitions that blend perfectly into one another. It's unpredictable as can be but it never loses direction. After each time change, the subsequent section is relatable to the one before it. The fast drum beat we witnessed on Why We Fight is re-introduced during some of the sections, right up into Bobby's shout of "And I will bury you!" which is followed up by Nic singing "They'll dig you up in 1500 years..." A reference to the physical Volcano exploding over the city of Pompeii is obvious, but what about the line preceding that? The parallelism to human emotion is apparent. "The Guilt Engine" only strengthens the notion, which personal lyrics that ride smoothly over thick chords. This song sounds nothing like anything Gatsby's has ever done. A terse, dark verse leads into a hard hitting transition or two, but the music comes back around full circle to where it began.

The fourth track "A Mind of Metal and Wheels" is one of the standout tracks on the album. The urge to get up and dance is irresistible, as a Latin drum beat complete with claves (they sound like wood blocks) drives the song underneath a quirky, offbeat solo by Bobby. Hand claps only perpetuate the urge to bob your head, and by the time the song is over, you'll realize you'd been rocking back and forth for the past 2 minutes. "Fable" is a bit of a shocker, the guitar parts sound like a song from The Strokes. While this song is fairly simplistic for Gatsby's, it is far from ordinary. A one-dimensional guitar part fuels the intro and chorus while Kirk takes control of the verse with the bass. The song draws obvious references to the book Lord of the Flies, as lines from the song include "We came here on a plane/Just a bunch of little boys/Dance around the fire/Kill the pig pig." Of course these songs all have double meanings, but you'll have to listen for yourself to figure out what they mean to you personally. "The Giant's Drink" is easily the most poppy song Gatsby's has ever written, as a grinding guitar riff transitions nicely into a pop chorus that is reminiscent of The Foo Fighters. Of course, it wouldn't be Gatsby's without a change of direction midway through the song - without losing sight of the main melody of the song.

The 7th song "Shhhhhh...I'm listening to Reason" is itself the reason why I listen to Gatsby's American Dream. It's the most dynamic song on the album, as it goes through no less than 3 dramatic transitions into new time signatures, instrumentation, and melodies. It starts off as a hard, fast rock song with tambourines and an organ-sounding keyboard, then moves into an unpredictable danceable verse with hard hitting syncopated downbeats and a thick and funky bass line. After that comes a familiar chord progression and lyric which leads straight into an acoustic bridge with hand claps accompanied once again by claves. The song then ends up as a drunken Irish pub song - don't ask how they do it, I don't even know - all I know is that it works beautifully. Absolutely mind-blowing. "Your Only Escape" is a more down tempo song, complete with earnest lyrics and another head nodding drum beat with excellent work by Rudy on the high hat.

"The Hunter" is yet another incredible up-tempo song with heavy syncopation. The song also features guest vocals from Dan of This Providence. It's interesting how Gatsby's can write songs without choruses, but after the song is over you are still singing the main melodic lines. They simply don't need choruses to be memorable, and without them, the music is essentially deeper and has a longer lasting value. "Speaker for the Dead" is a more chill song with more illusions to the Volcano of human emotion with lyrics like "Oh elegant island/be buried in humility." Another cool thing about this song is that towards the end it contains a reprise of the chorus from the fifth track, "Fable," but this time the lyrics are a little better. The new version of "Badlands" is structured differently than the acoustic version on the EP, and is overall more interesting than the original. "Loosing of the Shadow" is the perfect way to end Volcano. A quiet lead-in has Nic whispering "How can you understand the way I feel about God?" A dramatic build-up is capped with the line "I am a volcano/and I'll hurt you all."

Boom.

The volcano is in the center of the island, the volcano that is human emotion, the volcano that is Gatsby's American Dream erupts. Breakneck strumming that is reminiscent to the Why We Fight era triggers the eruption while a high, bouncy bass line drives the melody. As the song and album fade off into the distance, you can't help but desire more.

Volcano is one of the most complete albums I've ever heard. It's multifaceted, passionate, and insanely catchy. If you haven't been sold on Gatsby's American Dream before, you NEED to hear Volcano. Everything about this record is stunning. The lyrics, the musicianship, how vastly different each song is from one another...all in all, it's everything you can ask for in an album. This is the album of the year. No, this is the album of the last 3 years. Yes, I said it. It's better than Ribbons and Sugar because it offers so much more without sacrificing any integrity. This album is different than other Gatsby's releases, it has songs with choruses, it has unpredictable transitions - but the result is the most structurally varied album I've heard in years. There are thousands of other bands that stick to a specific formula for their songs. Not these guys. Gatsby's American Dream continues to reinvent their sound for each individual album, and this record is a combination of all their earlier releases - plus much more. No other band out there comes any where close to what Gatsby's American Dream offers. Nobody is as creative, nobody is as intelligent, and nobody has written an album as epic as Volcano.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT GATSBY'S 13 April 2005
By Derek J. Woods - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Being a fan of popular punk rock since Blink and Green Day came around, the genre has definitely expanded in what is considered "punk", with almost every album containing some slow piano ballad, weird dance number, merengue, rap, etc....but because of this has also gotten more predictable. Just to not use the obviously disgraceful Good Charlotte as the common example, Bands like Wakefield, Plain White T's, and dozens of others come out with cds that are just rehashed pop punk. Every song about some failed relationship, how hard life is, and in Wakefield's case, there identity even changes to one of the "smart" 60's wannabe bands, now wearing tight clothes looking like The Strokes or The Vines. Then there is Gatsby's American Dream. Their music is undeniably punk but so original-at the very least I don't know how you could hate on what they do. Being a musician, I have so much respect for their numerous time changes, and very good drumming (especially shown on this cd). Through all 4 of their releases, they've changed a little each time, but still always have that signature sound. For a punk/emo/rock whatever fan out there that hasn't heard them yet, GAD is a punk band like My Chemical Romance in that they write songs that are catchy to the majority-which may get them on the radio-but in a cool, and talented way so they don't lose respect. The lead singer has a higher and different voice that takes getting used to, and I predict there sound isn't really for the light punk fan (The Bowling For Soup's or Something Corporate's of the world)-but more for guitar fans, and good songwriting. Volcano is undeniably their catchiest album, so if you wished to buy one it's a good place to start. I'd compare GATSBY'S to someone but I really can't. I've heard references to them being like previous, more obscure punk bands, but they're almost (keyword being almost) radio friendly songs set them apart. I can just say I'm a big fan of Strung Out, Relient K, Lagwagon, Guster, Goldfinger, etc...and Gatsby's American Dream. To get more of an idea of what GATSBY'S is like, check out my review for Ribbons and Sugar I wrote in 2004.
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