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The CLUAS Archive: 1998 - 2011

This review was first published on CLUAS in 2004
Other albums reviewed in 2004

The Rocket Summer

A review of their album 'Calendar Days'

Unusually, here we have a record that sounds like a band's work but actually was made by a solo artist. "Calendar Days" is the culmination of 20-year old Bryce Avary's 8-year obsession with countless musical instruments. And to his credit, he plays all instruments on this record including drums, guitars, bass and piano and yet maintains a sound any 4 or 5 piece band would be proud of.

The Rocket Summer 'Calendar Days'With this sound that hangs somewhere in between The Divine Comedy and Ash with a Placebo-esque vocal holding the two together, the record's most obvious (and uncommon) characteristic is just how "happy" it is. An example of this arrives early in the opening track "Cross My Heart", with "Starting from today / everything is going to be alright". Equally upbeat emotions are commonplace in "Skies So Blue": "I'm sorry I sound glad / but why always be so sad". Song writing like this is tediously simple in nature but nonetheless effective in conveying the record's surrounding message of hope and optimism.

Such lyrics even sound a little immature at times, but even if it falls into this trap, it's often rescued by happy-go-lucky melodies. A thumping drumbeat adds an enormous pop-charm to "Saturday", while ringing acoustic guitar gives heart to "That's So You". A sweet piano ballad is the basis for "What We Hate, We Make", and Avary uses a choir of no less than 42 schoolgirls as a backing vocal. The result is charming, if slight.

There's nothing particularly ground breaking about this record, but it sounds good for one man's work. With songs about self-expression, relationships and weekends, it will probably go down well with the teenage generation better than anyone so if you're a fan of the melancholy or the self-exploratory type of songwriter, then this album is not for you. On the other hand if it's a carefree feel-good pop rock record you're after, then by all means.

Jimmy Murphy