New Brunswick, NJ seems to be bringing the rock lately. The Measure [SA] is one of the towns hard working bands with a slew of releases. One Chapter in the Book: A Collection of Standard Waits and Measurements compiles many of them in one place, with the album title being nearly as long as the record itself. What follows is an eighteen-song, thirty-eight minute splurge of feel good punk rocked dressed in indie clothes.
This is my first extended exposure to the band, and Im not sure if a collection is a good way to start or not. First impressions put the band in Lemurias realm: punk rock with a strong influence of quirky indie. In the 1:19 Countdown, Laurens voice wavers with a heartfelt and convincing quiver that keeps The Measure sounding more like under-produced punk than a reinventing-the-wheel indie band. There are very strong pop sensibilities and the songs lack a lot of the traditional elements of a punk song: anthems, singalongs, and dissonance. Not to say this is a bad thing, by any means, just that The Measure is a band that will appeal to those who dont strictly listen to punk rock as well as all of the usual sweaty basement fans. Their lyrics are personal without being autobiographical.
Singer Lauren carries most of the band on her shoulders, but others pick up their fair share, as the band alternates singers on a handful of tracks. When others take the mic, things are more discordant and sloppy, such as on Good Soup. On Wreckage and The Moment You Said Yes, they adopt more of an Operation: Cliff Clavin feel, with synchronized, but slightly off, dual vocals and over-caffeinated peppiness. Big As Space Jam, featuring guest vocalist Alex Wolff, sounds like late 1980's/early 90's artpunk with a spoken word delivery over the top. This song is the albums low point, but mixed in with seventeen other short songs it serves as a fair intermission to catch your breath. Its also one of few tracks on here that are obvious b-sides. It reinforces how well Laurens voice fits the bands strengths. As for other influences, the vocals on Fourth of July inexplicably sound like shes channeling Liz Phair to the point that I had to consult the liner notes to make sure it wasnt a cover.
The notes themselves are excellent. I couldnt tell you how many collections CD's Ive seen that didnt bother to list where the songs were originally released. Not only does One Chapter do this, it lists what previously released songs didnt make the disc. You can tell that theyve put effort into this compilation, as they have also remastered the songs to keep the album flowing at the same level to give it a cohesive feel.
I have just one question: are the brackets in the name really necessary?
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Posted May 21, 2013, 7:45 a.m.
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