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Music Review: As Tall As Lions – You Can’t Take It With You

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As Tall As Lions is an alternative rock band from Long Island, New York. Their sound is characterized by slow grooves and melodies, but they also incorporate more upbeat straight-forward rock. Fittingly, some categorize their music as alt-smooth. While many indie rock bands have been incorporating electronic music to create electro-dance, As Tall As Lions does the opposite by using electronic sounds to add textures to their mellower tracks. Standout tracks from their self-titled album included the pop gem "Love, Love, Love" that received quite a bit of critical praise. "Milk and Honey" is one of my favorite mid-tempo rock tracks of all time. The band does an excellent job at these slow to mid-tempo tracks highlighted by lead singer Dan Nigro's soaring vocals. Without a better comparison in mind, they're like a more interesting and edgier Coldplay.

As Tall As Lions has returned with You Can't Take It With You. The new album builds on the band's sound and takes it in a more progressive direction. They don't waste time introducing you to their more progressive than poppy sound. "Circles," the album's aggressive opener, is easily one of the most memorable tracks. It climaxes with a guitar solo just the way I like them; distorted, yet melodic. My favorite track is the ultra-smooth and dreamy title track.  It rivals the beauty of the aforementioned "Milk and Honey" from their last album.

The 8-minute plus "Duermete" exemplifies the band's more progressive sound. It's a driving ballad that closes with a minute or so of atmospheric electronica that would be at home on a Portishead album. "In Case of Rapture" brings up the tempo to its highest point thus far. The bluesy "We's Been Waitin'" is another memorable track and shows the band opening up their range a bit. It's the type of song that could be a bit polarizing among the fan base. It took me a few listens to really appreciate it.

You Can't Take It With You seems a bit more brief than the last album, but with its quality tracks that's not so much a knock as an observation.  This time out it seems like there's more of a twist on their slower tracks instead of the straightforward, albeit flawless, feel of their slower songs on the last album. "Sleepyhead" is a great example. It's a very quiet and patient song creating another dreamy atmosphere. The song seems to be referring to a comatose state as you can just barely make out the beeping of a heart monitor for brief moment. "Lost My Mind", the album's closer has the obligatory hidden track after the music stalls for a moment. The hidden minute and a half features a female's voice as the last trick up You Can't Take It With You's sleeve.

There's no way this album could be confused for Coldplay or some of the band's other more vanilla sounding peers. You Can't Take It With You is like listening to the soundtrack of a movie because there's such a cohesive and distinctive sound to the tracks. There's so much instrumentation, intricate layers of sounds, great uses of choruses, and Nigro's great vocals. There are plenty of moments where you can just soak in the sound like the wash of silky smooth melodies of the title track. The cool Fall weather always puts me in a more introspective mood and this is an excellent Fall album to listen to while on a long drive in the country or city.

After hearing You Can't Take It With You, I'm an even bigger fan of As Tall As Lions and I can't wait to see them on tour live with MUTEMATH.

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