After spending a the day in Rochester yesterday, seeing the likes of How We Are, Polar Bear Club, Permanent, Pressure, and Invade, the ride back called for something different. Something universally agreeable amongst the four of us taking the three-hour drive back home. Something…special. That something, that something was Dude Ranch .

I think anyone who liked pop-punk during their high school years needs to be reminded of why they loved it in the first place every once in a while. No, we’re not 16 anymore, but the fact remains those songs still hold up, and can still make a three-hour ride seem less than half that. All Time Low, while sharing the basic premise of being a pop-punk band, hold none of that same magic. It’s hard to be a pop-punk band that’s even somewhat memorable, I understand that, but these songs leave so little an impact it’s often hard to remember they’re playing at all.

It’s hard to even articulate, some bands just have those intangibles, and some don’t. It’s apparent right from the get-go that this is a band that fits into the ‘don’t’ side of things. “Coffee Shop Sountrack,” though inadvertently so, is a very fitting name. The boredom of the everyday coffee shop is perfectly reflected in the chords and the vocals these three minutes provide. It took me a while to figure out just who it was that singer Alex Gasgarth reminded me of, but it’s actually Kenny Vasoli of the Starting Line. The noticeable difference being that Vasoli has a little something extra in his delivery, thus letting Starting Line songs build on a much stronger foundation than All Time Low is able to. It’s not that I don’t think they’re trying, because it does sound like an honest effort, but the fact remains that none of the songs have that ability to grab you at first, in the middle, or even at the end.

I can admit, the band does throw some catchy chord progressions together — look no farther than “Jersey Rae” for that, but their ineptitude when it comes to tying the package together is what really does them in. Either the vocals outshine the instrumentation, or vice versa; it’s rare that both are on cue, and even then, the rope holding everything together is frayed at best. Furthermore, finding off-key vocals or lackluster chord progressions is not half as uncommon as it should be.

They’re able to hide a lot of the inconsistency with simplicity, but only so much can be held back before becoming painfully evident that the substance is lacking.

author: Jordan Rogowski