The Academy Is... are a Rock band from Chicago signed to the Fueled By Ramen record label. Originally named 'The Academy', the band changed their name for legal reasons in 2004 to avoid issues with other bands already using the name. Their début album 'Almost Here' was released in 2005 and is predominantly I would say a Pop Punk album. The album consists of ten tracks, each of which I consider to be exceptionally strong and highly infectious. When the album was released, The Academy Is.. were my most played artist each week for several months, and I still continue to listen to this album from the band whenever possible. I find this album strangely fascinating and could happily sit there with the album on repeat and listen to it all day, when listening to the 'Almost Here' album I just seem to go into my own little bubble where its just me and the music.
Clocking in at just over half an hour in length, the 'Almost Here' album is not exactly what I would consider to be lengthy, however what it lacks in minutes it more than makes up for in merit. Each track individually is a masterpiece, and none of them fail to have me singing along. Front man William Beckett has a brilliant voice; softly spoken yet poignant and powerful. The lyrics are spoken with real feeling and when listening to the music you get a real sense that the band are completely genuine. They love the music that they are making and this is something that comes across strongly in their sound.
With 'Almost Here', every track is a highlight and all ten of those present are well worth your while listening to. Not a single one disappoints, and if you enjoy a good bit of Pop Punk then you should absolutely love this album. Tracks such as 'Slow Down', 'Attention', 'Checkmarks', and 'Black Mamba' are essential listening and really are crying out to be heard by all. Their passion for the music comes across not only in the voice but in the lyrics also, a declaratory statement in 'Black Mamba' for example of 'Oh, Mr. Magazine - I never wrote one single thing for you' summing up nicely just how little their music is made for media consumption, Beckett also stating that if you don't like his voice then you can 'Take a long walk off of the shortest pier you can find'. Love them or lump them, The Academy Is... are going to keep recording the music they love to make no matter what people in certain media quarters may think and regardless of how much certain members of the general public may hate their sound.
The vocals of William Beckett are what make this band so great to listen to. I love his vocal tone and find his harmonies to be utterly encapsulating. I'm not ignoring the instrumental impact of the band as this is immense, however the vocals provide perfection. The instrumental side of the music is often a magical backdrop for the vocal performance of William Beckett and the majority of the time it is his vocal performance that takes the lead whilst the instrumental element takes a back seat. When listening to The Academy Is... I often neglect to listen to their instrumental performance, however when I close my ears to the vocals and just listen to them, still I gain great aural satisfaction.
I feel the 'Almost Here' album from the band is probably one of the best I have heard in recent years. Certainly no other album has grabbed me quite like this one lately anyway; it can take a lot to please me musically, however The Academy Is... just seem to press all the right buttons here and have recorded one of my favourite albums of all time. Their music possesses great energy and a strong zest for life, something which also comes across with their live shows when the band are visibly putting their all into their performance and as a result putting on the show of a lifetime. The music of The Academy Is... is well worth listening to, and for that reason I strongly suggest you check them out if you get the opportunity to. I'd find it hard to understand how anyone could possibly dislike this music, 'Almost Here' is an album which borders upon perfection.
Another band that I have always liked for a long time and who have just recently a few weeks ago released their second album, are The Academy Is. I first heard of them just over a year back and listened to the album and really liked it. I then saw them live and thought they were great which made me an even bigger fan. They are on the same record label Fueled By Ramen as Paramore and Fall Out Boy, both bands I have reviewed their albums. The Academy Is have quite a relaxed indie sound, they are not in anyway heavy and the singer has such a soft voice that could never make them a really heavy rock band.
The Academy Is hail from Chicago like Fall Out Boy, it seems to be a city with quite a big music scene as I notice a lot of bands nowadays are coming from that city. William Beckett is the vocalist; Adam Siska is on the bass, Michael Guy Chislett on guitar, Andy Mrotek on drums and Mike Carden on guitar. William Beckett and Mike Carden grew up as rivals and didnt really see eye to eye. They both had separate bands but then William left his to take a more serious approach and was looking for someone with a similar view. Mikes band eventually broke up and the two spoke more and realised they shared the same music views and the rest is history.
3. Slow Down
4. The Phrase That Pays
5. Black Mamba
6. Skeptics & True Believers
9. Down And Out
10. Almost Here
2. SEASON: Skipping the first song I thought Id go right onto this song. Season is the first song I heard from this album and was what got me into the band. However, after hearing the whole album this song isnt really like many other songs on the album. It starts off with a quiet drum beat and guitar then the vocals then it moves into a steady pace, the chorus becomes more livelier and it is a big sing-along when live. This song is about what they have had to go through to make it being in a van, worrying about petrol money but not complaining because they know it will turn out good in the end.
3. SLOW DOWN: I really like this song I feel it is a great ballad with a relaxed pace to it and it was a great single choice. This was the second single I think to be released from the album and at first it wasnt that great a song to me but once it had been played more it grew on me. It seems to just have a drum beat playing in the background with guitar lightly the singing is great in this song its really strong against the music. I like the lyrics in this song too they fit in with everything and are clever. I like the bridge it moves to a fast rhythm which changes the song up a bit then the chorus is really powerful and gets louder and quicker. I think this song is about a relationship of being used by someone just for fame reasons. The video is nothing special its them in some sort of Hollywood House which is being used as a film set while they play their instruments.
3. THE PHRASE THAT PAYS: I liked this song more, again, after it had become a single. This starts really quietly with the same guitar chord being strummed and singing over it which is really strong then the drums kick in. The song vocals seem to build up even more as more music joins in ands then the chorus gets loud and the singing seems more like shouting but then it breaks into a rhythm. I like the style of how the chorus is done the way there is such a build up it makes the first line really strong which I think is the idea. This song to me is about having a chance and taking a risk and going for it to make it big. In the video to this song the singer is in a hospital bed and then it flashes to them all playing in a band so I found it a bit strange.
SKEPTICS & TRUE BELIEVERS: This is probably my favourite song off the album. It just starts with singing then as usual the drum beat starts up, it is a very mid paced rhythm. The music is great and strong in this and when the chorus comes its really catchy and quick and I always felt this should have been a single. I never listened to the song much then one day I did and I liked it instantly I really like the singing in this song it is sang with more emotion and the music all works well as a whole. This song to me seems to be about a relationship having to end because of ambition such as wanting to get this band started and the person not wanting them to leave and being selfish where as the one in the band wants to leave and wants them to let him go.
CLASSIFIEDS: I really like this song it has such a happy mood to it and is unique on this album. It has a quick drum rhythm to begin then the vocals begin and it is cleverly written like an advert for himself (William Beckett). Attention bidders its lot 45, hes got a decent voice hes got that crooked smile show the idea of an auction as him writing himself as a classified. The chorus is really catchy and will stick in your head for days. I think this song is about people selling stories for money, so in other words the whole auction idea is the idea of being sold to the papers and people gaining money from what you have achieved.
CHECKMARKS: This was the first song to be released from the album and I did like this song almost right away. Id say this song has more of a pop feel to it but its still a great song. This song starts right away which is great and the pace is quick but the vocals are a bit shouty which isnt too great but it does fit the music. Its another catchy song and the chorus is loud and definitely stands out. This song to me is about being used about someone who sleeps with people in bands just for the sake of it but doesnt want people to know about it. The video seems to be footage from them all trying to make it and it has a few live scenes but it isnt anything special.
Id say this band has a sound which people who like all types of music could really like. I wouldnt know who to compare them to but they are definitely a band with great music and that have a great stage presence. To hear their music go to their Myspace page below and take a listen. They have a new album called Santi out just now also. Their official website is http://www.theacademyis.com
The album Almost Here is sold on Amazon for £4.97 which I think is the best deal online at the moment. You could also buy it from eBay Im sure cheaper.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
3 Slow Down
4 Phrase That Pays
5 Black Mamba
6 Skeptics And True Believers
9 Down And Out
10 Almost Here