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Music For Everyone: ACLU Benefit Album Review

Music For Everyone is a benefit album stemming from the mind of Taking Back Sunday’s John Nolan. With the help of many influential bands in the Alternative Scene, the album comprised of rare and some unreleased protest songs by several beloved musicians including Anti-Flag, Frank Iero, and Sleep On It. Proceeds from Music For Everyone will go to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU helps fight for those suffering from discrimination and other crippling civil issues throughout the world. Music For Everyone was released on Bandcamp via Sub City

Records and Collective Confusion Records on March 30, 2017.

Having Anti-Flag kick off the album was a great decision. They do not take standing up for what they believe in lightly. Their message has been equality and acceptance of all people since the beginning, and it really shows through with this song. “Buried The Shame” aims to prove that everyone is fighting the same battles, and there is no difference between people. This song was very Anti-Flag and set the tone for the rest of the album.

“Always” by Chris Farren is a very upbeat song that makes the listener tap their feet and bob their heads along with the song. The song is about the narrator lusting after a boy, but he likes someone else, who is basically a ‘phantom in disguise’ and he doesn’t understand how the boy cannot see that.

When albums are made for a cause or as a part of a tribute to an event, there is a tendency for songs to get extremely sad and slow. “Always” combats that with it’s slightly sweet undertones.

Soothing acoustic guitars supported the semi-nostalgic and reflective Taking Back Sunday song “Just A Man”. The song discusses the idea that these younger generations are responsible for moving the world in the right direction but without all the pressure that comes with that ideology. TBS makes this dream possible by pointing that anyone who is ‘just a man’ can do anything. Sparking change is not a superhuman action. Anyone can do it if they are willing. This heartfelt and inspiring track was easily one of the best on the entire album. It completely encompasses the message of the ACLU, and more people need to hear it.

Photo by Ryan Russell

“During these next four years, I feel it’s going to be extremely important to support organizations that will stand up to the Drumpf administration,” says John Nolan. “I also wanted to give artists an opportunity to express something about what’s gone on in this country over the past year and what’s coming in the next ones. I needed that for myself and wanted to connect with other people who needed it. And I wanted to take that need for self-expression and channel it into something bigger than all of us.”

“Twisted” by Potty Mouth was the song that made the album take a turn. At the first, this song seemed a tad out of place. This song is heavier than the last song in regard to guitars and reminiscent of 2004 punk rock. On first listen, it seems like just another song about being angsty and misunderstood, but it actually makes for a good social commentary.

The song references how things and words can be twisted and given a meaning that they initially were not supposed to take on. More often than it should, one person’s words or actions will be misconstrued and thrust upon a group of people, which leads to generalizations and stereotyping. This song accurately captures just how damaging it is to falsify words and turn something into something it is not.

The album regained some of its initial softness “Honest Man (Live At Nu-Tone)” by Travis Hayes. This song had some questionable lyrics, especially towards the beginning, but other than those few moments, the song seemed to have an actual purpose. This song may not have fit perfectly into the album, but it was a good way to counteract the edginess of the previous track.

“When Justice Comes” by Gift Of Gab (ft. Taking Back Sunday) is completely different from any of the other songs so far on this album. This song is a Rap/Hip Hop song about getting justice. The artist sings about equality and racism. It was one of the most hard-hitting tracks on the whole record. Also, it was one of the most direct, which was refreshing.

Kevin Devine accurately addressed the hypocrisy running rampant in America in the song “Both Ways (Acoustic)”. There is often talk of freedom for everyone in this country, but there are always exceptions. Unfortunately, that freedom is only for the privileged. This track serves as a wake up call to those who are too blind to notice that freedom and equality do not mean the same thing to everyone.

An acoustic song from Dave Hause seems to talk about the riots of 2014 in Ferguson Missouri after a shooting of a black teenager by a caucasian police officer. The satirical title alone should be an indication of the tone of this piece.

The next two songs set a rapid pace for the album but included some decrescendos. “Break My Heart” and “I’m Paranoid” both address not being satisfied with their current state. While “Break My Heart” was beautiful lyrically and melodically, “I’m Paranoid” was not. The lyrics got the point across, but it was extremely repetitive and lacked some of the mystery that can stem from a put together song.

“Boardin’ USA” which was an obvious parody of “Surfin’ USA” felt so out of place on the album with its almost comical undertones. It was definitely an original take on resistance, it just could have been conveyed better.

Anthony Green’s angelic voice overlaying the acoustic guitar makes one feel as though they were laying in a veranda in Spain. This track played heavily into dark, melancholy tones. It struck the heart in a much deeper place. It was eerie, but “Spanish Moss” accomplished its goal.

“Believe In Me” and “Getting Into Heaven Can Be Hell” were similar in that they touched on the lack of trust that people have in our government to do right by its people. James Dewees and John Nolan chose the perspective of the American public, while Frank Iero chose the path of the government. Both takes on the idea only heightened the importance of needing the government to people representative of its people and not only be out for themselves. The song by Frank Iero is very in the style of MCR with the overlapping voices. It’s a loud, Punk Rock song with lots of heavy guitar. This gave the government a diabolic tone.

“The OverThinker” carried a double meaning. It played into how overthinking is both good and bad. This idea was paralleled with the fast and slow pacing of the music. This theme was one of the most abstract on the album.

This is a slow song about someone lost in their life. Time is blurring and they can barely remember where they are and what they have to do but they assure the audience that they are okay. They are content and that’s where the title “Half Full” comes into play.

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“Point Of Change” is a rather existential look at how the world got so complacent about its issues. This was the turning point of the album. Many songs that came before it were about taking a stand, but this was reflective and also made a glance at the future.

“Head Or Tails”, a Rock song by Jared Hart, was about how every decision you make has 50/50 odds that it either goes well or it goes wrong. This concept was similar to that of “The OverThinker”.

The song “sinn” by Cameron Boucher was too short. It was truly one of the most astounding songs on the entire album. It was fairly haunting; however, the rasp of Boucher’s low voice combined with the skillfully crafted and thoughtful lyrics made it a beautiful piece.

Overall, “Straight Outta Blindness” was a funky song by Dead Heavens. The artist sings about needing more kindness in the world and how ready to steal people are.

Around “Birdless Cage” was when the album started to get long. Songs like “Memorial Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” were positioned in such a way to symbolize that it took society a long time to get to where they are and that it will probably be a long battle to get to where society should be. However, it should not be a deterrent from change. Everyone only gets one shot at life, and that shot should enjoyable for everyone.

“City of Glass’ by Answering Machine is a song about faceless people in the city of glass. The use of male and female voices layering over each other pair nicely and makes the song stand out from the rest of the album.

The songs “Corvette” and “American Skies” played off one another. Cassinos song was another reflective piece on the record, and it was paired with a piano with a halfway upbeat tone. The song by Gravel Kings had great acoustics and talked about the future. This songs should be enjoyed in tandem.

“Space Angela” has two tones to it. At first, the singer is singing softly in comparison to the other one, who sings a little louder and with a more fiercer tone. The song is about having a long distance relationship.

Music For Everyone was overall a well put together benefit album. A few songs seemed out of place, but that did not in any way take away from the meaning and hard work that was poured into it. The variety of styles and messages goes perfectly with the album title; this really is comprised of music for everyone. No matter where you live or who you are, Music For Everyone will pull on heartstrings and force people to reflect on their lives. Music For Everyone is available now on Bandcamp with at least a $10 donation.

Track Listings:

1. Anti-Flag - Buried The Shame (DEMO) 01:47

2. Chris Farren - Always 01:58

3. Taking Back Sunday - Just A Man 03:36

4. Potty Mouth - Twisted 02:56

5. Travis Hayes - Honest Man (Live At Nu-Tone) 03:44

6. Gift Of Gab (ft. Taking Back Sunday) - When Justice Comes 02:37

7. Kevin Devine - Both Ways (Acoustic) 02:58

8. Dave Hause - Season's Greetings From Ferguson 03:14

9. Allison Weiss - Break My Heart 02:41

10. Brett Newski - I'm Paranoid 02:43

11. Brendan Kelly And The Wandering Birds - Boardin' USA 02:10

12. Anthony Green - Spanish Moss 03:30

13. James Dewees & John Nolan - Believe In Me 03:28

14. Frank Iero - Getting Into Heaven Can Be Hell 02:04

15. Modern Chemistry - The OverThinker 03:24

16. Baggage - Half Full 04:05

17. Secret Space - Point Of Change 02:57

18. Jared Hart - Heads Or Tails 04:02

19. Cameron Boucher - sinn 02:09

20. Dead Heavens - Straight Outta Blindness 03:36

21. The Republic Of Wolves - Birdless Cage 05:32

22. Answering Machine - City Of Glass 02:38

23. Cassino - Corvette 05:14

24. Rationale - Space Angela 02:58

25. Gravel Kings - American Skies 03:50

26. Sleep On It - Memorial Day 04:32

27. Lolo - The Day After Tomorrow 05:27

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