When I first listened to Reach, I was sucked into the catchy sound that escaped the speakers. I was pleasantly surprised by their music, as it was not quite what I was expecting based on the band photo. I know, I shouldn’t judge based on a photo, but they look like so many other emo/screamo acts, what with the black hair swept over one eye. They just looked so bland.
I was half expecting another Escape the Fate, and that is not something I wish on anyone. when the intro completed and “Song 2″ began, I liked what I heard as a sigh of relief escaped my lips. All is not perfect, but there is something about their music that is comfortable, easy to listen to, and even a little fun.
Listening to Reach, two other bands come to mind. It is as if these two bands got together, mated, and gave birth to a little mutant band which was then set loose upon MySpace. The two bands? Evanescence and As I Lay Dying. Take the female-fueled melodic rock of the former and combine it with the more aggressive styles of the latter. The result is a band that is neither rock not metal, landing somewhere under the screamo banner, although not nearly as annoying as many of those acts can be.
The music is catchy and easy to listen to, but that does not necessarily mean that it is good. It’s not bad, but it does not stand out all that much. As soon as the album is over and the player has stopped, I find it leaves the ol’ memory banks rather quickly. It does not have the staying power to make it truly good music. That said, they definitely have the talent to step beyond genre boundaries and create something special, meaning it will be interesting to see how they develop beyond what is being showcased here.
Vocally, the contrasting styles go a long way to hitting the two extremes. Screamer Brandon Anderson does not seem afraid of pushing his screams far into the danger zone, to the point that they are jarring. This is a good thing; fearlessness is something so desperately needed in music that has any expectation of being memorable. Meanwhile, founding member and singer Alexia Rodriguez has a sweet, melodic voice that is at perfect odds with Brandon. She brings some emotional depth to the genre topic standards of dark subject matter.
Musically, they are solid with a nice dose of melodic playing that doesn’t get boring and actually does a bit more than expected. Alexia pulls double duty as singer and guitarist, and does a solid job alongside Greg Kerwin, delivering some nice rhythms and lead sections that border the progressive. Meanwhile Alexia’s sister, Anissa, is on bass, combining with Caleb Clifton on drums that deliver some solid rhythms. Nothing spectacular, but they do a fine job of keeping the momentum driving forward. Finally, Brandon also holds down two positions. In addition to providing those deathly screams, he also mans keyboard, adding another texture every now and then throughout the album.
One thing I read that I found a bit odd was in the bio on their MySpace page. They are described as taking the punk and hardcore communities by storm. I find it odd because their music does not fit into either of those categories, but hey, whatever gets you listened to, right? They have successfully used MySpace as a tool in their young career to gain contacts and national exposure, as well as booking an entire tour through the social network.
Overall, this is an album that is a lot of fun to listen to, but does not provide enough to chew on to really be won over. It is a situation sort of like those old beer commercials: “Tastes great, Less filling!” When you press play, enjoy the ride this young band takes you on and think about the possibility they have for the future.
Bottomline. To this point, the band has a lot to be proud of, gaining some national exposure and using the web to book a tour, not to mention their quality music. No, it is not the best the genre has to offer, but I doubt this is the best they have to offer. Still, there is no reason not to enjoy what is here. It is definitely solid. The only problem being that when it is over, you will be hard pressed to name what it was just heard.