Posted by Brian McFarland on 07/29 at 11:24 AM
Set Your Goals is a punk-pop band out of the San Francisco Bay area and is back on the road after releasing their third album Burning at Both Ends on June 27. They have made a name for themselves by living in tour buses, but it has been more than worth it, at least from a fan’s point of view. Their albums portray the electricity and feeling of a concert. Burning at Both Ends is no different as it touches on themes to give up regrets and live for yourself in the moment.
Cure for Apathy, the first song on the album, immediately got me hooked with the chorus, “there will be wisdom here in time, and all the stars will be aligned.” Jordan Brown, lead vocalists along with Matt Wilson, uses his high pitched voice to sing over fast-paced drums from Michael Ambrose and catchy guitar riffs from Daniel Coddaire and Joe Saucedo. Audelio Flores’s background vocals and the gang vocals pull it all together beautifully. In an interview with rocksound.tv, Wilson explained that this song is about distinguishing fame from success.
Start the Reactor continues the band’s message with the lyrics, “I do this because it’s what I love.” The song urges you to stay positive and remember the reasons why you do things. Certain is the anthem to this theme. Starting with a call to action, “Hey if you really want to fight with me, then drop the act and take accountability,” and shouting toward the end of the song, “for where you’re at! you need to be yourself.” This is the reason why I enjoy SYG so much. That reassuring, positive message with sound musicianship behind it.
Happy New Year, like Certain, focuses on self-accountability. In the interview with rocksound.tv, Wilson says that this song was an emotional experience to write. He had a terrible year and the song is intended to shine light on a bright future. He realized that things could only get better. London Heathrow is a prime example of the beauty in two lead vocalists. Brown and Wilson really lay it down on the track.
The Last American Virgin is another example of SYG using their own experiences to promote a good message, in this case, that life is open-ended and you have to take advantage of the opportunities. Exit Summer also tells you to take advantage of life. You have to give up your regrets and live your life. Exit Summer is one of my favorite songs on the album. The gang vocals, fast beat, and Wilson’s lyrics like, “we tried so hard to keep from hitting self-destruct,” had me pressing repeat over and over.
Unconditional is a powerful song with powerful guitars and drums. It is about being there for those you love no matter what. The breakdown is probably the best on the album and you can’t help but shout out, “this is so hard to swallow, it’s a bitter pill to take!” This is definitely another highlight of the album. Unfortunately, the next track is Product of the 80s, put a huge damper on the entire album. Basically taking a complete 180 from Unconditional, the song feels fake. Like an attempt to drop pop-culture references, and eventually make a silly video.
Raphael and Illuminated Youth leap right back into the harder feel I was looking for in this album. Raphael brings the chaotic feel of Certain but actually flows through the path from fear to forgiveness. The title is a reference to Raphael from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles whose life follows the same path of the song. Illuminated Youth is the concert theme song about the thrill under the blue spotlights of the stage and hearing the sound check that gives the audience a preview of the greatness to come. It brings the hardcore side and reels you in with the shouting of, “restless legs, restless days. Bored with the boxes, always. PA’s are speaking loud, young ears frequent the sound. They’re allowed to bruise picking what parts to use, but where their feet are is a longer floor that lessens the chore. It’s bigger, a crowded view.”
The final song of the album, Not as Bad, is an astounding 18 minutes and 49 seconds. According to rocksound.tv, Brown says the song is about throwing caution to the wind and trying everything once. If you haven’t tried it you will never know for sure if it was right for you. He said that the song came out very post-hardcore, indie, which is probably why I enjoyed it so much. It was a great conclusion to a good album.
As much as I enjoy the record, there are only seven songs really deserving of an A: Cure for Apathy, Certain, Exit Summer, Unconditional, Raphael, Illuminated Youth and Not as Bad. Then there is Product of the 80s which was such a standout in my mind as a fail at an odd attempt of creativity. Still worth a listen though.
Buy Burning at Both Ends at Amazon.com:
Author: Brian McFarland
Bio: Brian McFarland is a senior print journalist major with a minor in English. He has a passion for all forms of original, creative music. In his spare time he likes to attend shows, play sports, read, and write. He loves the indie scene but still loves music of all genres and sounds. Favorite bands include Brand New, Emery, Thursday, and Blink 182.
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