on April 7, 2012
"Plans Within Plans" is, in my opinion, one of the greatest albums (from any band) to date. It is the perfect combination of all things I love about MxPx - The awesome guitar solos, rapid drum beats, and Mike's insane singing. Pretty much every song is able to be sung-along to, and it an all-around bad ass record.
(To say something about the overall sound, I would say it sounds like a mix of Life In General, Slowly Going The Way of The Buffalo & the best parts of Secret Weapon.
BUY THIS ALBUM, YOU WON'T REGRET IT!!!
on April 5, 2012
I've been a dedicated MxPx fan ever since "Going the Way of the Buffalo"--some 14 years ago--and have always admired the band's commitment to writing quality pop punk with honest, down to earth lyrics, while evolving and growing both as musicians and as individuals, reaching its climax with The Ever Passing Moment, in my humble opinion. I enjoy and love every album the guys put out after the turn of the millennium, but while their music grew in complexity--something I'm not opposed to in any way--they seemed to lack some of the lyrical depth found in previous efforts.
Plans Within Plans comes in the wake of MxPx's 20th anniversary--quite an achievement for any serious band--and it's the album many of the fans who grew up with the band have been waiting for. It takes a back to roots approach, benefitting from the relentless energy of "Life in General" and "Buffalo" and the maturity and experience the band has gained over the past decade. Songs like the first single, "Far Away," the opener and next single "Aces Up," "Stay On Your Feet" and "When it Comes to You" are fast paced numbers dealing with themes of change and crisis, and the maturity to overcome them. Instead of classic heartbreak songs we find the assertive "Cast Down My Heart" and "She Still Loves Me," a song that could very well fit any Social Distortion album. The record also includes the traditional hardcore moment, which in this case is found in "Screw Loose," although we've yet to hear anything that channels the urgency and brutality of Buffalo's "Fist Vs. Tact." Featured guests are plenty throughout the record, most notably being the contributions by Descendents guitarist Stephen Egerton on "Far Away" and "In the Past" (the latter features a classic Descendents style lead). Egerton has worked with the band before on songs like "Here With Me," "Without You," and "You Hold the Key" and he's responsible for the mastering duties on Plans Within Plans, adding to the already established cred of these true veterans of the scene.
How can you not love the boys from Bremerton? What other punk band combines Beach Boy harmonies, Monkees joviality, the freshness of Young Ones era Cliff Richard with an imperceptible nod to the Ramones? Someone said PWP combines the best of The Ever Passing Moment and Secret Weapon. How could it? But that's an understatement, because there's some "Punk Rawk Show" in there as well. The band has never been so confident. Glimpses of intelligence glint from the mike and guitar, and there's that incredible trademark double drumming. Mike Herera has one of the most versatile voices in rock, but here he outdoes himself. Beyond the experimentalism of their middle period, the band slips in the offbeat power chord here and there, but it works.
"Responsibility, not quite yet". This is the yet. Graduated from the school of rock and growing up. The boys from Bremerton shun candy-coated production and pop platitudes to deliver the goods. They're like your frat brothers, full of good advice that is hard-won, never descending into cliche. Their faith, hinted at by the title, is so deep it need never be stated, but wells up from the grooves. This is the album the band was always waiting to make. Somehow rootsy and rowdy, stripped down and intricate, practiced and effortless, all at the same time. This is what punk once was-- could be-- is again. This is three very happy dogs gone wild with joy. This is an album so optimistic, upbeat and contagious you can't not like it-- where the plan and the band come together.
on July 31, 2013
I don't listen to as much punk/pop-punk as I used to, but I think I have every MxPx album (must be something to do with them being my gateway band into the genre). Secret Weapon and Panic were both good releases and this continues their still edgy sound. Sure, it's not Pokinatcha, but the band is more refined now. The still stick to their roots in various tracks throughout the album and also bring the obligatory bouncy and catchy tunes like "Best of Times." I have enjoyed listening to some of their mature themes such as in "Stay On Your Feet." Overall, I'm happy with MxPx and how they consistently push out great music. It's clean, fun and still reminiscent of their music 20 years ago... Crikey they're getting old, but still great.
on April 12, 2012
I've been listening to MXPX since sometime around 1998, they were basically with me throughout high school, and into college, kind of grew up with them I guess. As I've gotten older obviously I've outgrown many of the lyrical subjects, but, I do still put them on from time to time for memory sake mainly I guess. But still enjoy it all quite a bit, especially "Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo". Which kind of brings me to my point. This new album seems to have a very similar feel to "Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo". However, a more mature updated version. Which is great to hear!
Honestly, since "Before Everything & After" came out I kinda lost interest, continuing to focus on albums from "The Everpassing Moment" and back. Not sure exactly what it was, but I guess the subsequent albums have seemed to dive too deep into the pop catagory for my taste. Not that I dont like a good fun pop song, but thats just not what I was ever looking for with them. I guess I started to really notice that trend starting with the song "responsibility" from the album "The Everpassing Moment", that song always seemed to be a departure for me. And, that seemed to be the direction that they followed into with the album "Before Everything & After"
Well, I decided to take a risk with "Plans Within Plans", I guess I was just in the mood to see what they were up to these days. Not really liking anything on "Secret Weapon" much, and enjoying half of "Panic", I really wasnt expecting to be suprised by anything on here.
However, after about 4 tracks had rolled by I thought to myself, "Hey, somethings happening here!", I like this. It sounds like the classic MXPX sound, yet the lyrics are a bit more mature, and less playful. And, more importantly the music was good, back to good old real guitar riffs, and effective power chords. The whole thing just meshes very well. There are no tracks where I think to myself, okay, that sounds like something from another band, or why did they do that?. This sounds like a complete record, which is how there old stuff used to be. You could put on the album, be it "Slowly Going The Way Of The Buffalo" or "Life in General" and it all fit, and sounded like a complete thought. I liked that. Their later output has been more hit and miss. Which is why this one is a breath of fresh air.
I'm not going to review track by track, I'm not a big fan of that, I like to consentrate on the entire thing. And, what I can say here is that this is a classic MXPX album, very old school, but with a updated vibe, that kind of says, okay this is who we are, this is what we sound like, without bella nd whistles, or over production. Just guitar, bass, drums, and vocals. and, folks, if you are or were fans of the band, you'll get a kick out of this one, it's all the stuff we used to like from these guys, brought back, and full of life.
on June 7, 2013
I have been a fan of this band since '94. I have seen them live many times since '95 (10/6/95 with Crux and Craig's Brother opening for them at the Scream in Concord!). Every album they released ranged from near classic to at least half the songs being great... I made a collection of my favorite MXPX songs back in 2009 and it filled three CDs. For me the reality is that when Secret dropped I wanted to like it... I played it over and over and it just never stuck for me. A couple songs were good but honestly nothing that completely blew me away. When I heard this album was coming out I was ready for a redmemption... I feel like I grew up with them. We're about the same age and through their music they've been in my life almost 20 years! The redemption did not come. This is pretty boring and substandard -- polished, but lacking in quality. Cliche lyrics and predictable songs. If this had been their first album no one would be paying attention. I'm not expecting perfection every time -- I can't think of a band that has lasted this long that didn't drop the ball at times. But being honest and leaving the hype machine and flowery reviews from people that just started listening a few albums back, if I had actually listened to this album before I bought it instead of just trusting in the artist's legacy I would have skipped it.
All that said I do highly recommend investing in this band's back catalogue and recognizing what they have accomplished. For those that don't know, MXPX along with a small number of other band's were absolutely revolutionary and responsible for rescuing the Christian music industry from itself (in fact a good number of the great bands that came out on Tooth & Nail records have these guys to thank because MXPX record sales made funding for their albums possible). On top of that they were one of the first to be able to "cross over" into the "secular" music industry and never lose any credibility. Prior to MXPX a band where the members professed Christ was almost completely unheard of and basically a joke. They didn't compromise their beliefs or their musical integrity just being themselves the whole time. Although I criticized them in my review of this album this band deserves full respect and has an extensive catalog of great music.
on December 19, 2012
The moment you hear this album you notice a couple things you're not used to hearing. Lead guitar, lots of it, and a Mike Herrera voice that is very familiar yet somehow different. With the addition of another guitarist the music has many uncharacteristic riffs and plenty of typical lead guitar work found in many rock genres yet never before really found on an MxPx album. Mike has traded his classic "punk voice" for a folk rock tone he's picked up with his new project "Tumbledown." The first song I heard off of "Plans Within Plans" was "Far Away." This song delivers big and I was very anticipatory of the full record release. It fell a little flat. Upon first listen I was a little bored. "Life In General" had a similar beginning for me as well but that grew on me steadily and became one of my most influential and favorite records. This album has many good songs just not many great ones. I've listened to this album many many times by now and it has grown on me but in the end it still is missing something. Some other standouts include "Stay On Your Feet", "Lucky Guy", and "When It Comes To You."