February 23, 2007

Anberlin - Cities

On the eve of the release of possibly their greatest album Anberlin, an alternative rock band, announced that guitarist Nate Strayer was "moving on and focusing on his other musical interests". Christian McAlhaney, formerly of the band Acceptance and friend of Anberlin, would take his place. This will be the second guitarist to leave the band, the first being Joey Bruce in 2003. Anberlin released this statement earlier this week:

Also, our good friend Nate Strayer (who has been playing guitar for us) will be moving on and focusing on his other musical interests. We’re stoked for him and wish him the best. We’re still great friends, so definitely nothing weird. Stepping into the second guitar position is our longtime good friend, Christian (from Acceptance). We couldn’t be happier to have him on board.
Despite this bad news their newest album Cities is still amazing. To go with the CD's release, the band has revamped their website to mimic the album art, with someone painting city buildings in black and white. It's done very well, and looks great. Their MySpace page has also been updated to include ten of the twelve songs on Cities. It's one of the better MySpace pages I've seen, and a template of it can be customized/downloaded at this website.

So enough about websites. How is the CD itself? In one word: superb. There is something for everyone. A few of the twelve songs sound like they could easily be lost tracks from their last CD Never Take Friendship Personal. The opening song Godspeed hits hard with the sound that Anberlin fans have come to expect/love. This driving sound continues through the next few songs until The Unwinding Cable Car slows it down. The track starts with an acoustic guitar, adding the rest of the band later on. Watch out for the guitar solo in . My favorite song is probably the other acoustic song Inevitable where Stephen Christian croons:
I wanna be your last, first kiss
That you'll ever have (that you'll ever have)
I wanna be your last, first love (that you'll ever have)
Till you're lying here beside me with arms and eyes open wide
I wanna be your last, first kiss for all time
Aaron Sprinkle (producer) really pulled out all the stops on this album. He did a great job combining Anerlin's signature sound with many other interesting instruments. More than one song opens with a strong synth piano presence, and other songs have random instruments added in too. I also noticed tambourine, sleigh bells, timpani, and a string orchestra. The multi-part final track (*Fin) includes everything from a children's choir to a drum circle.

I'm excited to follow Anberlin's progress through the years. Already I cannot wait to see what they write for the next album. Cities continues their signature sound, but is also very progressive for them. Without alienating their old fans, this album will gain Anberlin many more in the months to come. I predict this band to do great things.


  1. What does "alternative" mean?

  2. I just have never understood what the label "alternative" is supposed to mean, in describing any band, or music generally. What defines the genre of "alternative?" And what is it alternative to?