CD Review of Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by Crisis in Hollywood
Recommended if you like
Millencolin, Lagwagon, NOFX
Label
Financial Records
Crisis in Hollywood:
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea

Reviewed by Jason Thompson

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F
lorida-based Financial Records is going to become a fast favorite on the indie scene if they keep cranking out quality acts and albums. Between the Victims of Circumstance album Do it Yourself and this debut from Orlando band Crisis in Hollywood, the label has already laid down a strong foundation. That they’re also focused on bringing quality modern punk acts out into the open is also noteworthy. Florida is back on the map, kids!

Crisis in Hollywood delivers 13 tracks of melodic pop punk on Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea, and it’s hard not to get caught up in its infectiousness. The group was founded in 2006, fronted by singer and rhythm guitarist Adrian Snyder (Atom to Atom) and is more than ably complemented by lead guitarist/vocalist Daniel Valery (Timebomb), bassist/vocalist Logan Benton (The Staredown) and drummer Andy Wambach (Ask Me Later). Together, CiH delivers a tight-knit unit featuring three-part harmony vocals, hooks galore, and a fresh-faced attitude that is joyous rather than the typical “we’re too cool for you” bullshit that seems to be de rigeur these days.

But hey, times change and it’s time to bring out the new acts who aren’t so emo that their hair cuts itself (har, har). Opening with “The Fashion of the Christ” (how can you not love that title), Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea kicks off with an explosive, propulsive beat and doesn’t let up. At times these guys are reminiscent of Millencolin with their melodies and the social commentary embedded in the lyrics (“OK it’s time, at least pretend that you like it / Don’t let yourself become cliché / I know your hip new friends and their hip new trends wouldn’t want to see that image fade”).

On songs like “If Your Heart’s Out,” the production of the album really stands out with simple, yet dynamic vocal filters being applied to portions of the tune, adding a dramatic effect that works like the well-oiled highlighter it should rather than just being some cheapo effect to have fun with. And then there are great songs like “Sin on My Lips,” where the interlocking guitars and vocal gymnastics all come together to make one gigantically great sound. This is the kind of stuff that would sound great on some future video game soundtrack.

But equally important is the great playing. Check out Valery’s stunning work on “Out with a Bang,” or the way the band cranks out a new style classic rock-sounding anthem on “Don’t Worry I Used to Drive an Ambulance” with its roaring guitars and crashing drums. Then there’s “Like a Wave,” featuring an instrumental break so tightly interlocked that it makes you wonder why these guys haven’t already exploded nationally. Well, if the world is gracious enough, that’s soon going to change. Crisis in Hollywood is some truly exciting stuff.

But if you need just one track to be convinced, listen to “Let it Go,” with its amazing soaring vocals and shifting musical mood, from raging choruses to quieter breaks that build up the tension perfectly before cutting loose once again. It’s the cream of the crop on an album filled with solidly great songs. And so it goes. If you need a good dose of new pop punk, then Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea will give you more than a quick fix. This is a prime example of how to do this kind of thing the right way without turning into one of those been there/heard that groups that litter the genre so much these days. Snag yourself a copy of the disc and give these Floridians some well-deserved love and respect, won’t you?

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