Better Than Ezra – All Together Now (The End Records) review
Our vote for album of the year – it’s that good
Remember, years ago, when your favorite band put out a new album? You couldn’t wait to listen to it ALL THE WAY THROUGH. You knew it would be great. Then, when you finished it, you played it again….and again. Well, nobody makes records like that anymore, right? Wrong. All Together Now from Better Than Ezra is a fantastic album – from beginning to end.
I know what you’re thinking – “Better Than Ezra…isn’t that the band that had that song ‘Good’ back in the Nineties”? Yep. But, instead of allowing that one-hit wonder to define them, the group has consistently improved their songwriting chops, releasing a string of melody-laden records, even as radio began turning a deaf ear to such music.
All Together Now, their eighth studio album, is their first new offering in five years, but it’s well worth the wait – it’s obvious that great care has been taken to assemble a solid album. The record opens with the unbelievably catchy “Crazy Lucky” – the fact that this wasn’t a number one smash is one of the biggest travesties of last year. Propelled by an acoustic guitar loop, leader Kevin Griffin sings: “There are six and three quarter billion people in this world / and 51 percent of them are girls / you roll your eyes like I’m full of it / but I Googled that shit.”
The album is good fun, with plenty of diversity to keep things moving along – from the New Wave steeped “Insane” to the funky “Undeniable,” and the anthemic “One Heart Beating.” The band has a knack for throwing in pieces of the past – “Dollar Sign” features the hook from Redbone’s “Come & Get Your Love,” while “I’ll Fly Away” pays homage to Dream Academy’s “Life in a Northern Town” with the wordless singing at the end.
Griffin must be a Tom Petty fan as “Diamond in My Pocket” references the “hey yeah” part in “The Waiting,” while “The Great Unknown” features him singing “oh my my / oh hell yes” from “Mary Jane’s Last Dance.” He’s also become great at writing songs that relate to everyday life – who hasn’t had a friend that keeps messing up like in “It’s Gonna Get Better.” But then he comes back and writes a simple, direct love song like “Before You.”
All Together Now is a rarity in this singles-driven market – the entire record is rock solid, from top to bottom. The best pop album os 2014. —Tony Peters