As I looked at the music releases of the past couple months, I noticed a trend: Most of these groups/artists had popular releases ten years ago. That either speaks to enduring artistry or a lack of creativity within the industry. Either way, this inspired me to take a closer look at this situation, since, ten years ago, I was much more a part of the music scene.

theTRu_presentsI’m going to pit these albums (the old vs. the new) against each other, track-by-track, reminisce, and see how these groups are holding up through the years. This will probably end up being a little longer than most blog readers can hold their attention for, so if you REALLY NEED to, you can skip down below and peek at the bottom line. I will try to entertain you the entire time, though.

The first group I’ll take a gander at is THE AFTERS and we’ll compare their label debut album, I WISH WE ALL COULD WIN (10 Tracks, 41 minutes), to their latest release, LIVE ON FOREVER (10 tracks, 36 minutes). I know, technically speaking, WISH came out in 2005, but it was really thriving in 2006 so I’m counting it. As you can see from the stats, they both have 10 tracks, though FOREVER weighs in at 5 minutes lighter. Let’s go ahead and dig into the tracks…

TRACK ONE: “Beautiful Love” vs. “Shadows”
Right from the opening strains, I’m drawn in again to Beautiful Love. This was such a big hit and the vocals are still so enjoyable bouncing up to falsetto as needed. Love the tempo variance. This was a stand out song when it released. Poppy, light rock at its finest.
Shadows offers a similar intro, but then drops in with a serious beat to control the rest of the song. Hand claps, driving rhythms, starts and stops, a hint of dance, maybe mingling with Capital Kings. Another fantastic opening track.
WINNER: PUSH – both tracks set up their respective albums too well and both are solid. RUNNING SCORE: 0-0

TRACK TWO: “Until the World” vs. “Battles”
afters-wishTRACK THREE: “Someday” vs “Sunrise”
Someday is like a trojan horse of a song (running with the theme introduced in Battles). It starts off all calm and cool. Then, it blasts into the chorus with an jolt of energy and includes a brief guitar solo that works much better than the last one.
There’s no question that, like much of the new album, the production on Sunrise is much better than on Someday. It has a very clean feel to it and a nice balance of rhythmic elements. And it’s catchy, but it’s a slight step down from the first two songs on the album.

TRACK FOUR: “Love Lead Me On” vs. “Time of My Life”
Sounds to me like Josh really likes the Beatles and wants to emulate them on this one. And then it launches into a PFR cadence on the bridge before launching into the chorus. Then it starts over. And does it again. It actually does work well though. And a guitar solo that’s pretty good. Oh, I really liked that break around the three minute mark. Not afraid to take a chance there. Respect. Then the song goes on at least 30 seconds too long, though.
Time of My Life is a beast of a single. You cannot help but tap along and bop your head around. I love this song. I even like the song they modeled it after, you know The Best Day of My Life by American Authors. It’s so good though that I’m willing to not make a big deal about it, though.
WINNER: PUSH – both have a lot to like about them, but there are also some fatal flaws. RUNNING SCORE: 1-1

TRACK FIVE: “All That I Am” vs. “Wake Up My Heart”
I did a total double take on this track to make sure I had them in the right order. It really sounded like Love Lead Me On was winding up for a big high energy jam here and what we have is a ballad. It’s a really nice track very subtle and a nice touch of piano and strings in the mix. It’s hard not to think this is their obligatory “J-count” booster song, though. Never mind, I didn’t say that… I like it. Good song.
This is not a ballad, but it is a more laid back tempo. Aside from the echoing refrains throughout (you can’t possibly forget the name of this song), this has such great production, it feels almost epic in nature. And this was a push up until about 2:40 in when this one pulled away.
WINNER: Wake Up My Heart. RUNNING SCORE: 1-2

TRACK SIX: “The Way You Are” vs. “Live On Forever”
Track six is a pivotal track for any album. In many cases, you need to re-energize the listeners to make it through the rest of the album. The Way You Are definitely does that here, but it also doesn’t really feel like an Afters song at all – based on what we’ve heard so far. Very Interesting. And it ends mid-sentence, like –
Years later, the group opts to inject the title track in the sixth spot. Smart. Listeners are already familiar with this song, so they feel rewarded for listening this far and encouraged to listen the rest of the way through. Plus, it’s a good song.
WINNER: Live on Forever. RUNNING SCORE: 1-3

afters-foreverTRACK SEVEN: “You” vs. “Eyes of a Believer”
WISH now takes us back to ballad tempo after a brief departure. It’s a touchingly vulnerable vocal performance and, oh yes, it does have some bones to it on the chorus. This is a rather pleasant arrangement. And we remember that it’s an Afters album that we are listening to.
Nice piano runs to introduce this song and it builds up to a throbbing beat that hints at the influence of Imagine Dragons.
WINNER: PUSH – both right in their wheelhouse. RUNNING SCORE: 1-3

TRACK EIGHT: “Love Will Make You Beautiful” vs. “Survivors”
There are some nice moments on this song, but overall, it’s a pretty forgettable chorus. See, if they managed to focus on the stripped-down arrangement of the closing 30 seconds or so, it might have made it a much better song.
I think what sums it up best is the repeated phrase, “we know who we are.” That’s is the key to this song and, by extension, this album. At this point in their career, they do know who they are and to whom they are appealing. Sometimes that’s not a good thing, but in this case, it works really well.

TRACK NINE: “Wait” vs. “Legends”
Here it is. This is what Love Will Make You Beautiful could have sounded like if the focus had shifted like I suggested. Instead of winding down to the highlight, Wait is a great example of a track laid bare that builds to a climax while maintaining the right tone the entire time. Not the best vocal, but it is vulnerable and emotional and it captures you while it’s on.
Legends keeps up the energy of FOREVER, thereby keeping the listener engaged deep into the album. It’s a single waiting to happen and a single that will probably find its way into some TV network’s sporting promos.
WINNER: PUSH – different goals, but both have enough to take notice of and appreciate. RUNNING SCORE: 1-4

TRACK TEN: “Thank God I’m Not the One” vs. “When You’re With Me”
Closing tracks. Last impression or lasting impression? Thank God has a nice rolling rhythm and some intriguing vocals. Not sure it’s the best close to the album, but it’s not a bad song. It’s a song that makes you want to focus on the lyrics and the lyrics are worth paying attention to.
When You’re With Me seems to serve as a nice reprise to the album, it almost feels like rolling credits. Very calming and soothing. Sweeping strings and a very nice tone to complete the journey of the album. Not a single, but a nice inclusion for the listeners.
WINNER: When You’re with Me. FINAL SCORE: 1-5

SUMMARY. Well, that tooks some time. It was fun to look back at that album – I haven’t listened to it in years. I remember it being a pretty significant album at the time. We all knew The Afters were headed to great heights and it’s neat to see where they are now. So obviously, the new album outshines their major label debut, which isn’t a slight on their roots, just a celebration that they’ve grown through the years.

Thanks, The Afters, for the memories of albums past and here’s to ten more years of albums to come.

peace.. .love… bdg…