It always is nice to find an album that is both easy to digest and has somewhat of a long lasting effect. In our modern world of pop punk it seems that so many bands have mastered the first part but are quite lacking as far as the second one is concerned. Natives of Maryland, All Time Low put out an EP on Hopeless Records with a lot to like. Its overall sound is catchy, relaxing and fun, just like pop punk should be. Vocals are very smooth in sound, and the harmonization as well as its usage is absolutely stunning for the genre. Bass sticks out as a sturdy block, holding up the rhythm section very nicely. There is a fair share of verses where bass lines even stand out as being very well written. Drums do exactly what they need to, keeping a beat yet tossing in a fill or roll to compliment the music. It’s pop punk, so the guitars must be power and octave chord driven progressions, and maybe a five second riff here and there…WRONG! Believe it or not there are actually some respectable guitar melodies on this album. Riffs are not only catchy, but also very precisely executed and wonderfully written. There is never an abundance of riffs, yet at the same time rarely a drought; as the band always uses them when the situation calls for it. All of these are factors that help make Put Up or Shut Up a joyful listen.
From the opening of Coffee House Soundtrack the band might sound a little on the standard side, but being an opening track it provides a perfect opener for the EP. Some palm muted chords make up the intro and to be honest, this song opens up a little poorly but things quickly pick up. Vocals make a perfect entrance and the opening lyrics are quite nice, Should I write myself out of the history books, and mark a place in time for every chance you took, don’t get me wrong I know you’ve got your life in place, I’ve yet to take the hint. I like, nothing mucho complicated, but effective. The verse moves along fluently and the chorus comes in equally as smooth. There is a bit of a stop start rhythm during one part on the chorus and while not something drastic, it is a nice addition to the song. Unfortunately a very safe approach to song writing is present in the fact that a palm muted bridge builds up into a final chorus. However, that and the weak intro are the only major complaints, as the opening track is fairly enjoyable. Later on the band shows a bit of variety, as a clean guitar introduction opens The Girl’s A Straight-Up Hustler. As the rest of the band comes in, the riff persists, creating a nice easy listening verse. Things pick up once again during the chorus, and what a catchy one as well. Lyrics really stick out here as well…
Take off your makeup and put down the camera,
choke on the drama that makes me want to,
tear up the pictures, the pages you’ve saved,
creating a life of trends and make believe…
Call them cheesy, simple, etc, but regardless of that they get the point across. Lyrics aside, bass is actually ear grabbing during the majority of the song, adding accents in some darn fitting areas. During the second clean verse the slightly distorted guitar stop start pattern, clean riff, and the bass are in wonderful harmony. This song really sticks out not only because of its insanely catchy chorus but for all of the various sounds here. There is a bit of a bass bridge which works as a wonderful lead in to the last chorus. Unlike the opener here, they end up returning to the clean guitar as opposed to ending on the chorus. The superb usage of clean guitar here really stands out and makes this song a highlight. This song has a lot to offer besides a laugh at the title’s expense.
Jasey Rae keeps the album moving at its usual pace. A very nice riff comes out during the intro, its one of those upbeat, cheerful pop punk riffs that makes you want to get up and dance. After the intro however their sound becomes a tad repetitive. Despite the fact that there are some little riffs along the way which keep things somewhat entertaining; they do not completely mask the fact that the verses and choruses found are beginning to blend together with each other. There is a little slow bridge which leads into another great riff, almost a mini solo. If their focus was on guitar parts for the song they accomplished their goal, because that is one of the only redeeming factors found here. Other than that, many aspects of the song are just not as strong or convincing as the previous tracks. Things all finally come together during The Party Scene. This was a title track off of a previous album for the band and with good reason. A nice vocal intro opens this one up in a different fashion, grabbing the listener’s attention right from the get go. The verse has its usual joyful state, keeping things moving at a nice pace. Here is something a bit new once again, a wonderfully written bass line. It comes out during the prechorus with a guitar lick being played over it. The two riffs compliment each other perfectly, leading into a fantastic chorus. There is a bit of a lead in the background, not very impressive due to difficulty but more so towards what it adds to the song. Plenty of depth is added into the chorus as a result, making it very persuasive. Once more the great bass lick comes out and one begins to fully realize how much this song has going for it. Just when you think the song is at its peak, it is boosted higher. Guitar solo?! I kid you not, far from shredding but this puppy adds plenty to the song. It’s playing highlights plenty of passion as it easily a triumph for the guitar portion of the record. Despite clocking in under the 3 minute mark, The Party Scene has a good amount to offer, making it the strongest song on the EP and a good representation of the band’s sound.
For this being only a 7 track EP, there are a good amount of redeeming factors present. All Time Low clearly has a strong sense of what they want as far as their music goes. The only downside of this is that sometimes parts of songs can blend together. However, Put Up or Shut Up has enough features that help separate the band from your average pop punk band. The guitar work is nice in a sense that it can successfully carry certain sections and add a lot of depth to others. Both players know how to create songs without entirely relying on octave chords. Usually this is the section where I’d skip over the bass, but once more ATL prevails where others fail, as bass is very prevalent throughout the EP. When not holding up the rhythm section, some very fitting riffs and lines come out, adding plenty of strength to certain sections. Vocals are smooth throughout the record whether atop of clean or distorted guitar work. Their tone is very consistent despite not being ground breaking original. Overall, All Time Low has put together quite the enjoyable EP. As a whole their sound is easy to digest, but contains enough to keep listeners coming back for more. Things sound polished, catchy, and most importantly enjoyable; which is a lot to say since all four members graduated high school in 06! Put Up or Shut Up gives listeners a hint at what success the future might hold for the Maryland quartet.