Monday, October 11, 2010

Review: Alternate Routes “Lately”

Longtime readers of BMF know that I am passionate about the Alternate Routes, a pop rock band co-founded by Tim Warren (vocals, guitar) and Eric Donnelly (lead guitar) in 2004 (read my previous reviews here). From the beginning, the Alternate Routes have amazed me with the depth of their songwriting – rarely are such moving and intelligent lyrics surrounded by chillingly good melodies. As if it couldn’t get any better, Tim Warren’s warm and clear vocal tone wraps itself around every word, often building to a jaw dropping climax. It is with great dismay and disbelief that I find myself struggling to say something more positive about the band’s latest, simply called “Lately”.

“Lately” has its charms. After a prosaic instrumental opener, Warren’s vocals caress the ears like a gentle breeze on “Carry Me Home”, and it is inviting to hear his magical tone once again. But like too many of the songs on this record, “Carry Me Home” never takes off - we just taxi around the runway for nearly five minutes. “Rocking Chair” provides a little relief and sounds more like the Alternate Routes I’ve grown to love. Other highlights include “Love The Way”, which showcases a fantastic and inventive vocal, and the earnest ballad, “Raincoat”, but honestly, even those don’t grab me as much as their previous material. Producer Teddy Morgan brings a rougher edge to some of the tunes, but the band’s core sound is left intact. The problem, frankly stated, is that this batch of songs is rather dull and lacks the hooks needed to make them memorable.

Warren sings on “Tell Me Your Name” that he can’t smoke a cigarette sober, but is happy to just watch it burn. I think that is how I feel about “Lately”. I’ve given “Lately” more than its fair share of spins, and the subtle hooks do start to sink in with time, but I hope the Alternate Routes can get back on the main drag next outing…or fewer will want to join them on their journey.

iPOD-worthy: 3, 7, 11, 14

Alternate Routes on MySpace. Official site.