The little band from Andover, Massachusetts who started dropping records while they were still getting rejected by women in high school are back. Back, but this time on a different label. The kids (and I don't call them kids because they are young, but because their music reflects this) and Big Wheel Recreation have parted ways after four albums of emo-filled music.
Their fifth album, All Ears, All Eyes, All the Time is being released on their new label, SideOneDummy Records. It's been two years since their last record, 2002's "We Are the Only Friends We Have," and the group has gone through much. Last year they contributed the horn fringed "The King" to the Punk Goes Acoustic CD. And for the passed two years they have endured intense, extensive touring and in addition, lead singer Travis Shettel underwent throat surgery. Not to worry you trendy, teeny boppers, his voice has not changed for the worse. If anything this band has matured. Guitarist Aaron Stuart brings more classic rock guitar, bassist Andrew Bonner is playing more complex bars, and drummer Luke Garro seems to mesh with the instrumentation better. The main change though, is the stabilizing selection for more piano influenced punk rock. Fortunately, Piebald has not ventured to far into Something Corporate TERRORtory.
The album opens up with "The Benefits of Ice Cream" a witty lyricized track, "Hey most pessimistic boy in LA, have some ice cream and relax in the shade." The next track, "Present Tense" features a hollow riff and shifting power chords. "Human Taste Test" is sung a bit to whinny for my taste while "The Jealous Guy Blues" harmonizes central scales in the instrumentation. "Haven't Tried It" is rather repetitive chords and "Giving Cup" is embellished with emo. "Part of Your Body Is Made Out Of Rock" is driven by an underlying bass while "The Song That Launched A Thousand Ships" blends punk and classical guitar. "Put Your Slippers On Instead" is a piano driven pop ballad close to Something Corporate, but more on the verge of Elton John piano, Donnie Wahlberg vocals, and a punk guitar. "Get Old or Die Trying" as in the words of Shettel, deals with "Mid twenties depression or quarterlife crisis." "All Senses Lost" features an impressive solo guitar while "The Six Eighter" surveys the rock guitar genres.
Perhaps the best tracks on the album are the interludes not discussed above. Most are just instrumentals of the band rocking out. Travis Shettel's strong natural tenor can get a bit annoying at times, especially when he is whining. The sound of the band on this album overall is something like Ben Folds procreates with Avenged Sevenfold and their offspring grow up on Something Corporate. Piebald is an acquired taste, and Piebald fans shouldn't be disappointed. If your a pop punk enthusiast who is attracted to piano influenced punk rock this might be a pick for you.