CD Review of The Beginning of the End of the World by This Holiday Life
Recommended if you like
The Church, Todd Rundgren, Paul McCartney
7 Spin Music
This Holiday Life:
The Beginning of the End of the World

Reviewed by Jason Thompson


here was a time not so long ago (the early ‘90s, to be precise) when it felt like the popular music scene was being revitalized once again and that anything could happen. The genre known as “alternative” music was reaping all sorts of rewards and money thanks to Generation X’s disenchantment with the popular hair metal of the latter half of the ‘80s, and basically everything else that was left over from the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush years. Indeed, the world was rapidly changing socially, politically, and musically. It was a utopia of sorts, one in which you could actually turn on the radio and hear all sorts of things that, only a short time before, wouldn’t have been given the time of day outside some college radio station.

But, as is wont to happen, big business decided the best thing to do was sign every band it could get its hands on, regardless if said band was truly any good or had any staying power. Soon enough, the genre became glutted with a bunch of lousy cookie-cutter groups and the whole scene collapsed, leaving room in its wake for the likes of gangsta rap and the new wave of boy bands to take over (granted, there was a brief moment when techno was latched onto as the next big thing, but this was abandoned by the big labels after no one but Prodigy managed to really move any units). But for a few brief, shining years there, it seemed like anything could happen.

Now it’s 2008, the whole music business has been turned upside down for a variety of reasons, and more than ever it seems like the majority of the popular music being played by today’s radio stations is nothing more than mere product – almost like musical commercials in between all the other commercials. Yet some bands are still out there, worthy of your time and attention, creating things that need to be discovered to remind us that there are musicians who still care about what they are creating and want people to hear their work. One such group is San Diego’s This Holiday Life, who formed in 2003 and have been releasing their work on a regular basis ever since – work that has won them accolades such as “Best Pop Band” at the San Diego Music Awards.

Featuring lead vocalist Scott Anderson, bassist Bobby Anderson, guitarist Joe Freeman, and drummer Mark Nagel, This Holiday Life creates pop music tapestries that hearken back to those heady days of the early ‘90s. Opening track “A Yes, Not A No” manages to blend McCartneyesque pop with Joe Jackson-like soul melodies. But it’s the second track, “Mission Control to My Heart,” that really brings back those Gen X days with its powerful, soaring chorus and larger-than-life guitars that manage to sound personal, yet expansive all at the same time.

“Undercover” sounds like a great lost Church track with its echo-laden guitars and demanding chorus. Yet the album’s crowning achievement is undeniably “Friendly Fire,” with guitar interplay during the verses that almost recalls Television’s devastating “Marquee Moon,” coupled with a funky backbeat and impeccable melody. It’s simply one of those tunes that is begging to be heard – and delivers immeasurable payoffs when it’s played.

Then there’s “Animal,” which flirts with an Adrian Belew-meets-The Beach Boys style, and “Motivation,” which somehow brings to mind some of the more soulful early ‘80s pop music with its own original twist. And so it goes for the rest of the album, with This Holiday Life bringing their own talents to bear on whatever inspiration strikes their fancy and making wonderful new music along the way. Pop music this refined and enjoyable isn’t created every day. Rejoice, pop music lovers, you have a new band to embrace.

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