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Bad Books
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2010
Awesome album, awesome album, awesome album.

I got my first listen a few days ago when the band put it up to stream and have been hooked ever since. The music is great - it's different enough from Manchester Orchestra and Kevin Devine's individual stuff that it warranted its own album, and that's a good thing. Seeing that Hull and Devine can both branch out and create great music together is no surprise, and whether you're looking for rock-ish collaboration stuff or acoustic solo stuff, you'll find something here.

I should say that on my first listen I was really only expecting songs where both Hull and Devine were singing and playing together; the songs I had heard before the album was released were all in that format so that's what I came to expect. If that's what you're looking for - and the songs where the two work together (at least in an audible way) are great - then songs like "You Wouldn't Have to Ask" and "Please Move" will be great for you. I'd say that the "harder" songs on the album have the sort of rock touch that Manchester's songs usually have, but with the lyrical finesse I've come to expect from Devine. That's not to say that Hull doesn't have lyrical finesse - "Baby Shoes" and "Texas" definitely showcase Hull's lyrical (and vocal) ability - but I think the "rock" songs on the album are a good combination of both.

As a big fan of Devine, though, I have to say that my favorite song on the album is "You're a Mirror I Cannot Avoid." It's the sort of beautiful acoustic song that got me hooked on his music to begin with, and to me adds a nice touch to the rest of the album. I'm a big fan of the balance between the solo stuff by Hull and Devine and the rest of the rock songs I mentioned earlier - to me the whole album really fits together and just "works."

If you're a fan of either Manchester Orchestra/Andy Hull or Kevin Devine, I can almost guarantee that you'll love this album. If you're a fan of rock, you'll love it. If you're a fan of indie stuff, you'll love it. If you like good songwriting, you'll love it. Hell, if you're a fan of music in general, I think you should like this album. Do yourself a favor and check it out - you might be missing out on two great songwriters and musicians otherwise.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on October 20, 2010
Back in the 60s and 70s when music was innovative and fresh and musicians knew how to play and sing and write songs this is what I remember it sounding like. WTF I'll say it... Great folk rock!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 22, 2010
Bad Books' self-titled debut album is a collaborative treasure of 2010. Kevin Devine, the former lead singer of Miracle of 86; now solo folk/acoustic songwriter, teams up with Manchester Orchestra to form this new band. These two musicians have been touring over the years and have become very close friends. This album has a personal touch that most mainstream collaborative albums don't have. There are many, many pros for this album with a few cons that do not weigh the album down too much.

The best tracks on this album are definitely "Holding Down The Laughter," "You Wouldn't Have To Ask," and "Please Move." These songs are also the most upbeat and rock out more than any other songs on this album. These songs have lyrics that are solid as any Robert Frost poem and instrumentals that move the lyrics to a level that only this team-up could reach. These three songs may be the best of the album but the rest of the songs do keep up with these three and keep the listener's ear interested.

"The Easy Mark & The Old Maid," "You're a Mirror I Cannot Avoid," and "Mesa, AZ" are sung by Kevin Devine and are clearly written by him as well. His style is very recognizable and is different from Andy Hull's style and songwriting (lead singer for Manchester Orchestra). These songs could definitely be found on his older records and could easily fit in without a doubt. "Baby Shoes," "Texas," and "Please Move" are clearly the writing and style of Andy Hull.

The biggest complaint about this album is that Devine and Hull did not sing together more within the songs. The expectation for this album was a duet between Devine and Hull, a give and take within a song in terms of the vocals. However, they plan on more albums. Hopefully they will be able to learn from this album and make the next one even better.

With that complaint aside...this album is definitely worthy while and very enjoyable. Bad Books self-titled album is worth the buy.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 1, 2010
The debut album from Bad Books is a fantastic collection of memorable, catchy, and poetic art that could cause you to explode with happiness. I enjoy the music of Manchester Orchestra and I love the music of Kevin Devine but even if you've never heard of or listened to either band before, you should give a listen to Bad Books. Not only will you get great music but it will expose you to some of the most talented musicians around today.

My only reason for not giving this a perfect score is that as an overall album experience, something is missing. It is more of one of those albums that is filled with great songs but doesn't quite come together in the end to make a cohesive final project. Hope this helps!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 25, 2010
First off, I have never heard of either of these fellows nor the bands they play in, so I came to this music with a blank slate of expectations. For $3.99, I took a chance when this was the daily deal download. First listen I thought -- ok, catchy, poppy, kind of fluffy -- not as distinctive as some of the other indie rock I've been discovering but not bad either." Then with further listens, I realized there was more than meets the eye going on here. First off, the lyrics are very original and well-crafted, and even when they don't make perfect sense (but they mostly do) the sound of the words fit the music perfectly. In addition, you can understand every single word that is sung. These guys take their vocal responsibilites seriously,and the singing is very good. Secondly, several of these songs have killer hooks that will worm their way into your brain very quickly. It's not that easy to write catchy songs. Some reviewers have commented that they can tell the difference between the two songwriters, but to me it all flows together seamlessly. I'm really enjoying this album.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2010
At first I just thought it was alright. Then after listening to the album again it got better. And another listen better. It is more of a pop-indie feel to it. Different from any other Andy Hull music he has released. It is one of those cd's that you will listen over and over again. It puts you in a good mood.
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on April 11, 2011
I bought this Album because Kevin Devine is on it. I had never heard anything from these other guys, but it seems pretty clear which songs were predominantly theirs and which were predominantly Kevin Devine's. Unfortunately, these other guys cannot come close to Kevin Devine on songwriting. The last track on this album grates on my nerves because it's so poorly written. It comes across as juvenile or amateur, even. Look at the lyrics to Mesa, AZ (Kevin Devine) and then the lyrics to Texas (other guys). It is a pretty huge talent gap. That said, if you really enjoy Kevin Devine, and it's hard to not, this album is probably worth a purchase, but you might want to just skip the last track on the album. I think I would have given this album 4 stars if that track was simply omitted.
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on October 10, 2013
Five songs on this album are written by Andy Hull, the front man for Manchester Orchestra. The other five are written by Kevin Devine, a simply phenomenal solo singer/songwriter. This collaboration explores the use of some rarely used guitar pedals, effects and techniques along with heavy harmonies and, as always with Andy and Kevin, powerful lyrics. There is a second Bad Books album out now and while it is obvious they have had more time to refine this collaborative effort, this album is a must buy. There is nothing like it. 5/5
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VINE VOICEon October 25, 2010
I am a fan of Kevin Devine but not so much of Manchester Orchestra. When I saw the two together I was a bit skeptical. I previewed the album and Kevin's voice sold me on it. Of course being the deal of the day was also a bonus. Lyrically the songs cause you to pay attention. The music is smooth and keeps you entertained all the way through. I have only listened to it twice so far but overall I would recommend that everyone get themselves a copy of this cd.
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on January 17, 2011
I'm a big fan of Manchester Orchestra, which is how I was turned on to Bad Books. The lead track, "You Wouldn't Have to Ask", is so catchy and sure to put a smile on your face. The band is extremely talented and the record itself is consistent and demonstrates their incredible musicianship. I would highly recommend this album to anyone - beautiful and intricately crafted songs that you'll be listening to for quite some time
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