Playing Charades

Typically, at my band’s shows, I am a man on a mission. “Play the show, market, and leave.” It’s a strategy that has paid off big time in the past, saving me from viewing really obscure local acts. But last night at my show in Alton, something in my gut told me to stay. The acts that followed blew me away. One in particular caught my attention.

The headliner, La Bella Charade (LBC), brought their A-game and had the crowd moving from beginning to end. Their stellar live performance prompted me to purchase their debut CD, “All Friends, No Fans”. After jamming it for the past 24 hours, I can say it was money well spent.

LBC starts it off with the ultimate pop punk package in “When, Not If.” Highlighted by an infectious chorus, Charade offers a subtle invitation to the rest of the album, personally silencing any sceptics. “Come one, come all, this is your lucky day, answer the call, tell me you’re here to stay.” “When, Not If” provides a nice landscape to what the rest of “All Friends” is: a rock solid pop punk CD. And while there isn’t necessarily anything groundbreaking here, every track is a highlight, all killer with no filler.

It’s hard to find a local band that has the production quality to match sheer musical talent, but LBC did it. Each song is broadcasted with crystal clarity, and allows listeners to focus less on tiny technical flaws and more on the well planned intricacies the band intended to be heard, like the sick vocal harmonies one can find me singing my heart out to on “Can You Hear Me?” and “Diamonds.”

This is music a punk fan can get into. Each song has a jumpy quality to it. The upbeat nature of the songs is alone enough to keep a listener hooked, but then the band hops into crazy catchy choruses, making them borderline sing-a-longs. Sometimes that is not even enough, like in the song “In It To Win It.” It sways from bouncy to poppy with a purpose, and then all of a sudden it hits. A breakdown that would bring a metal fan to his knees. I haven’t heard a pop punk breakdown hit so hard since Four Year Strong released “Rise Or Die Trying.”

These awesome melodic monuments aren’t achieved by coincidence. LBC is tight right down to the millisecond. They are all in the groove together, and when the CD plays, it is felt. The boys pack a punch, and the energy is what makes the album complete. They might not demonstrate the best musical ability, but it is simply not necessary. They have such a drive that comes through on each and every track. It’s not just going through the motions for La Bella Charade. This music matters to them and the passion is something missing in major label pop punk releases. That might be the reason that from top to bottom, “All Friends, No Fans” might be one of my favorite pop punk CDs. That’s up there with “Rise Or Die Trying,” “Chroma,” and “Skip School, Start Fights.” I would hands down recommend this to anyone who even kind of enjoys pop punk. Enjoy!