While re-releases have become taxing, the option to grab an enhanced version of a brand new disc on release day is the ideal option for music fans. On February 20th, indie rockers Anberlin released their impressive third outing, Cities, along with a two-disc Special Edition that includes three extra tracks and a DVD. While it may seem obvious which route to go in with choosing between the two versions, let's take a look at the treats on Cities: Special Edition before you shell out the extra dollars. *For a complete review of the original twelve tracks on Cities, see my full review here.
The audio portion of Cities: Special Edition includes three bonus tracks in addition to the original dozen. The first is "Uncanny" (which is not a renaming of the iTunes EP-only release of "Haunting," which actually would have made a greater addition here than any of these three songs), a distinctly more stripped down and upbeat romantic track for Cities. "There Is A Light That Never Goes Out" is a rough demo-quality track, originally done by The Smiths, and lyrically delves into the bliss of love to the apathetic point of not caring if the lovers were to die together that very night. The bonus tracks end with a perfect cover of When In Rome's "The Promise," an 80's throwback that was most recently resurrected in the indie comedy Napoleon Dynamite. While none of the new tracks really fit with the vibe of Cities ("Haunting" would have, however), they are great extras for diehard fans of the band.
The DVD disc for Cities: Special Edition may be even more of a highlight for some. The meat of the disc is a 29-minute dockumentary on the making of the album, Cities, all filmed in black and white and presented in widescreen format. The feature shows how much each member plays a part in the band and in the creativity of the recording process - from Joeseph Milligan's intense writing techniques to Stephen Christian's honest, soul-baring lyrical process. We also get to meet producer Aaron Sprinkle and hear his take on working with the guys. It's also quite interesting to watch the guys discuss different ways of having Stephen sing the melodies for certain songs, specifically as they construct "Godspeed." The only thing that would have really made the making-of complete, however, would have been a little more insight to the meanings behind the songs (although Christian does touch on it slightly), and maybe more background on the production of the epic "(*Fin)." Apart from the half-hour feature, there are a few Bonus Features, including a two-minute studio slideshow, the teaser trailer for Cities that could previously be seen online, two minutes of "outtakes" of Joey goofing off in the studio, and a brief revisitation with drummer Nathan Young of the sidewalk where the cover of Blueprints For The Black Market was photographed. Another bonus feature shows Stephen calling a few fans while in the studio to discuss the new record with them and get some ideas, while yet another has Joey talking about the history of the studio where they recorded in. Finally, we're treated to a humorous but brief look at the guys recording the "Whoa-ho's" and "Hey-hey's" for "Godspeed" (which includes Project 86 guitarist and Cities engineer, Randy Torres).
Making a great, emotional rock record even better, and giving fans an insight into its production that will allow people to really appreciate what the band put into the album, Cities: Special Edition is the definitive edition of Anberlin's Cities. If you're a more casual listener of Anberlin, the trimmed version of the project will suit you just fine, otherwise Cities: Special Edition is ideal and well worth picking up.- Review date: 2/27/07, written by John DiBiase
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