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The Alternate Routes
A Sucker's Dream
Vanguard Records
www.thealternateroutes.com


If I could have a favorite song for the entire year of 2009, it would be "On And On We Whisper" from Alternate Routes' new album A Sucker's Dream. People say that they have a song for every season, this is my song for Spring. Well, with a lead in like that, with just a couple guitars and then a bass that undeniably boogies your body, coupled with the lyrics "write a song that saves the world and don't be wrong, sing it up to God until she sings along", it is just so good. It's got the mass appeal for a commercial or two.

After I get over the fantastic-ness that IS the first song, I'm able to enjoy the rest of the album as well. "All That I Can See" is perfect for sitting you down and calming the adrenaline a bit. The acoustic guitar that accentuates this very indie-rock sound, is similar to that of former Dispatch-er Pete Francis. You need this song for a day spent on the porch, with your dog Sam. A second favorite song, at least on the album (not so sure about '09), would be "The Future's Nothing New." The most entertaining element of this song is the percussion. Not your typical set of drums. I can't pick out what that element is, but it adds a bit of a Jamaican sound to a stomp tempo. So add those to a bit of 60's blues guitar and some almost poetically honest lyrics and this easily becomes a great song. In having to keep the tempo up, I skipped ahead a few songs to "The New Song." When this song starts in and the first and really most significant guitar riff of the song bursts out, I can't help but wonder if the guys in the Routes are fans of Friends. Cause I'm sorry but that riff is just a tad close to "I'll Be There For You." Don't get me wrong, this is an excellent song. The slightly familiar riff quiets down forming a really drum heavy song, but a kind of drumming that still keeps you moving. "Toe The Line" is an awesome play on words for a song that's sooo punk, that I don't think it could be more so unless they spiked their hair and found some straight black sunglasses (to wear inside, of course). The guitar perfectly fits in the genre, as it is electric in every sense of the word, hanging mostly on the higher notes. You want more punk; well how about the harmonizing without harmonizing chorus? A better definition: not really harmonizing the notes, but definitely the lyrics. The best part of the song comes roughly 2:30 into it, when drums turn to a beat like that of a tin can and Tim (lead vocals) whispers "toe the line, toe the line, toe the line!"

How to end an album is a very important decision for a band to make. It's the last chance that you get to make your mark on someone. Well, the Alternate Routes chose to end with "A Better Way" which is a song that brings in a few new levels, including one from the current decade: computer generated sounds, and one from an earlier one: a good ole fashion piano. It's a little slower than the general feeling of the rest of the album, yet it powers out part way through in a more simplistic way. The emotion is there, along with a Snow Patrol sort of rock. When the thick of the chorus comes around, it feels like Bono's spirit found it's way into the lyrics "I did some thinking about the way it is/I wanna talk about Jesus Christ/It doesn't matter what side you're on/But you can't hear me cause you talk too loud." Now in this song is some true harmonizing, the notes AND words. As it fades, it's almost just the notion of what once was the guitar and hint of the drums. Like it's trying to just gently let you go.

Minus a few songs in the middle, this album will easily find itself on my top 10 for 2009. If only to introduce more people to that first impression: "On And On We Whisper."

-Rachel Fredrickson

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