Imagine how excited Philmont fans are for the release of the group's debut album, Attention. It's been a long time coming since Philmont has been tinkering around with EPs since 2006, but now at last we have a full-length project from the North Carolina natives. Unfortunately, the project isn't all-new, as only seven of the twelve songs released on Attention are actually new, as the rest were put out on the Oh Snap! EP in 2008 and its re-launch with an extra track earlier this year.
Sadly, what sticks out almost as much as the repeated tracks is the continuation of pop rock/punk music which draws close comparisons to Relient K, Stellar Kart, and Eleventyseven. The album starts off with "Hello Jack," a fast paced punk rock song which features a catchier tune than Stellar Kart, but resembles older Relient K as the song unfolds. The song makes plenty of musical twists and turns and eventually ends as a cutting-edge highlight. The song details a plane trip over snowy mountains which get highjacked by a rouge gunman who eventually causes the plane to crash (fortunately, a rescue attempt is successful). Those who are looking for a deeper meaning might look at the singer who loses faith in the plane's staff and wonders, "I'd really like to know/Who's in control of this plane."
Although the overall diversity among the up-tempo tracks isn't terribly high, Philmont succeeds at making every track an ear-catcher. The flawless "I Can't Stand To Fall," which was on the Oh Snap! EP, uses typical fast-paced punk tunes to attract those who are looking for something to dance to. Although Philmont takes their cues from the best of the genre, their brief adoption of Relient K vocal style in the bridge won't inspire anyone to pick up their record based on originality. The "I Can't Stand To Fall" metaphorical play on "Tear down this wall" with ‘Tear down these walls/I'd climb but I can't stand to fall without You" is just one of the symbolic lyrics used by Philmont which is common among other clever punk rock artists. But when Philmont sings "as I'm assenting/I feel you with me/ you wait with outreached/ in case I fall back down" on the synth-filled "Back Down," it will likely not endear fans to their songwriting abilities.
The best of Philmont's writing skills is "My Hippocratic Oath," which takes an emergency medical situation and turns it into a portrayal of salvation: "(Patient:) 'There's a pain in my chest and I'm told by the best/They can't save me/What make You think You can?/' (Doctor:) 'The drugs they prescribe and procedures they try/Will not save you/But I swear to you I can.'" "My Hippocratic Oath" is very guitar driven and takes on one of the most intense rock roles on the album. Since "Stetting Off" and "Where To Start" both feature great hooks but are based on standard punk pop foundations, the most satisfying parts of Attention lie with the album's lighter tracks. The solid, progressive pop music in "Letter To The Editor" helps the message of realizing our futility without God, ("I am a tragedy/ bound by this role I play the lead/could you write a new ending/tear out these pages/rewrite this story") and the ending ballad, the piano-driven "The Terminal," is also strong but contains a similar meaning.
The one tagline for a product I'll never understand is "less filling, great taste." However, if you tweak it to say "great taste, little filling" it applies perfectly to Philmont. It's really easy to pick through Philmont's flaws such as their lack of innovation (and why they chose an album name which was already used earlier in the year through the same label group by Kristian Stanfill?). But as a whole, Attention is a good, upbeat punk rock release with plenty of up-tempo, fist-pumping anthems and well-purposed themes. But since nearly half of the project has already been available for some time, there really isn't much to get excited about.- Review date: 9/2/09, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Forefront Records
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