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REVIEW: Say Anything’s New Album “I Don’t Think It Is”

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Artist: Say Anything
Album: I Don’t Think It Is
Release Date: February 5, 2016

Like every Say Anything album, “I Don’t Think It Is” lays it’s cards on the table from the first note of the raucous intro “Give A Damn”, and sets the tone for a strong outing that is at once a return to form and a massive leap in sheer willingness to push their songs beyond any easily categorizable structure. Lyrically, the song showcases Max Bemis’ traditional vitriol toward both himself and his critics. However, the song structurally revolves around a much more lo-fi garage rock vibe than has ben shown in any previous Say Anything album. This burst of high energy post-punk stems directly from the influence of members from bands such as The Blood Brothers, At The Drive-In, and Mutemath; as they each provide their own unique take on the tried and true Say Anything formula. Since the release of “In Defense Of The Genre”, Say Anything as a band has evolved into a collective of sorts with Max Bemis at the helm. Whether through a slew of special guest features (“In Defense Of The Genre”) or a bold decision to release an album without any guitarist (“Hebrews”), Bemis’ creativity and unhinged passion always shine brightest when he surrounds himself with his peers and idols.

Perhaps the most impressive feat this album manages to pull off is a return to the bold sassiness, hilarity, and angst that characterized the early albums without coming across as an awkward old man trying to rekindle the sound of his youth. Above all, there is a refreshing burst of anger on this release that could only be created by an artist who simply does not give a damn what critics, fans, or anyone other than himself thinks about the songs he has crafted. Perhaps this mindset is what allowed for the much talked about collaboration with Kanye West wherein Bemis and West sat down and listened to one another’s at-the-time unreleased albums together and each other.

As with all things Say Anything, there really is no way to truly ever separate truth from facetiousness unless you were actually present for any of the events, but it is very difficult not to notice parallels between the two artists. “Goshua” in particular sounds like an indie B-Side of the “Yeezus” album, and is the moment the album became a masterpiece. “We’re divided by a wavering expression. And I drink too much to cut the tension. You think I live for attention? Man, look what I do for a pension.” is a verse that could have just as easily shown up during “Black Skinhead”, and shows a bravado noticeably missing from the previous two albums. Max Bemis is confronting his own creativity with every line and through doing so manages to save Say Anything by simply returning to what he does best, brutally and comedically self-deprecating his own shortcomings and successes. In short, Say Anything managed to succeed where “Life Of Pablo” fell short.

A surprise release full of bravado and grandeur that actually delivered on the self-congratulatory hype of it it’s creator.

Check out our review and photos of Say Anything’s concert!
REVIEW: Say Anything Brings It to Tempe 4-22-16

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REVIEW: Say Anything Brings It to Tempe 4-22-16

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TEMPE, Ariz. — Say Anything came to the Marquee Theatre Friday night and gave fans exactly what they came for. The show opened with sets from mewithoutYou, Teen Suicide and Museum Mouth. Directly preceding the Los Angeles pop-punk headliner, mewithoutYou along with their high-energy barefoot drummer, Rick Mazzotta, was the perfect act to get concert-goers warmed up for what was to come.

mewithoutYou - Marquee Theatre
mewithoutYou © Kataklizmic Design

Even as the backline crew prepared the stage for the main act, attendees couldn’t contain their screams of anticipation when Say Anything’s backdrop fell open.

Say Anything - Marquee Theatre
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

When the house lights finally dimmed to herald Say Anything onto the stage, the screams were deafening. From the first song to the last, lead vocalist, Max Bemis, brought raw, hard energy to the stage. The group opened with “Give a Damn” from their new album, “I Don’t Think It Is,” released earlier this year in February. And with hardly a breath between songs, they continued into “Say Anything” from their 2012 album.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

Smiling and swinging the mic around by its cord between lyrics, it was evident that Bemis and the band were genuinely having fun on the stage. With a sea of hands raised in the air, Bemis alternately sang and screamed the words to “Woe” before thrusting the mic toward the audience. The crowd sang in unison, every word committed to memory.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

 

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

It was clear that even as concert-goers were feeding on Bemis’s energy, he was feeding on theirs too, and their enthusiasm was fueling the performance. But what’s perhaps most striking about Say Anything is their sincere love for their fans. At the end of the song, while concert-goers applauded, Bemis applauded them.

Say Anything’s set included other favorites like “Six Six Six” from their 2014 album “Hebrews” and “Death for my Birthday” from their self-titled 2009 album. Bemis then doled out some sage advice to one 14-year-old he spotted in the audience, advising him not to listen to the next song. “If you can relate to it, that’s awesome,” Bemis said. “Otherwise, you don’t want all this. Trust me,” he said before launching into “17 Coked Up Speeding.”

At one point during the night, Bemis confessed that he was glad to see that so many fans had connected with their latest album, despite the band’s two-year hiatus before the album’s surprise release. Many of the lyrics in Say Anything’s songs relate to Bemis’s troubled past and his struggle with bipolar disorder. But the passion he brings to the stage and the emotions that come through as he sings are what make it real. And it was that realness that concert-goers connected with Friday night.

Sherri DuPree-Bemis
Sherri DuPree-Bemis © Kataklizmic Design

The highlight of the show came when Bemis’s wife, Sherri DuPree-Bemis took the stage for “So Good” from the band’s 2012 album, “Anarchy, My Dear”. Her voice was hauntingly beautiful as it grew in intensity, perfectly complementing Bemis’s own vocals. Their affection for each other is readily apparent when they’re on the stage together, and it was easy to see that fans were engaged, not only with the music, but also with the story behind it.

 

At the end of the night, Bemis sweetly announced, “one more song for you” before playing “Belt” from the band’s 2004 release, “…Is a Real Boy”. But it wasn’t the last song. After exiting the stage to screams of “encore” and people chanting “one more song,” the band came back out. Bemis, rejoined by his wife, Sherri, sang “Two of a Crime,” a duet from the album of the same title that the two recorded together as Perma in 2013. It was followed by “Varicose Visage”.

But something was missing.

Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design
Say Anything © Kataklizmic Design

“One more, for real,” Bemis said. “If you know this song, sing along. If you don’t know it, I don’t know why the fuck you’re at this show.” Say Anything closed out the night with their most popular song, “Alive with the Glory of Love”. Before leaving the stage for the last time, Bemis thanked concert-goers for making it a fun show. And in one last display of affection for their fans, drummer Reed Murray took out his phone to snap a shot of the audience before disappearing backstage.

For concert-goers who came for a night of high-energy punk music that rocked hard and didn’t quit, Say Anything didn’t disappoint.

Check out our review of Say Anything’s new album!
REVIEW: Say Anything’s New Album “I Don’t Think It Is”

PHOTO ALBUM by Katherine Vega

Say Anything – Marquee Theatre 4-22-16

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Photography by Katherine Vega, © Kataklizmic Design
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