January 06, 2002

New End Original "Thriller"

I'm breaking the rules with Thriller. Whenever I get a record, I usually want to spend a week letting it touch me, going back and forth, enjoying and picking up on the intricacies of the songs, getting into the album's groove, and then working my way outward. Not this time, though.

I decided I couldn't wait two weeks to tell you about this record. Waiting on talking about this would be like waiting to tell your best friend that you finally hooked up with that person you've always wanted to. Waiting two weeks to call? Ain't gonna happen.

This is the debut album for New End Original, the latest group formed from folk who tried to make it big in the heyday of the dying days of Alternative Rock. This is a "supergroup," if you will. New End Original is led by Jonah Matranga, (formerly of Far and continually of Onelinedrawing) with help from Norm Arenas and Scott Winegard (both of Texas is the Reason) and Charles Walker (Chamberlin).
And yes, it's emo. But unlike the cheesemo that's currently passing itself off as good music, New End Original actually have talent, and, thus, this album actually rocks. Thankfully, and surprisingly, there's nothing on here that could pass off as crap.

There's something so refreshing about Thriller, though. Whereas most emo bands would lose me in a heartbeat with songs about ballerinas in music boxes ("#1 Defender") or about their feelings in a melodramatic manner, with New End Original, you don't think about such things. Why? Because they're good, damn it!
I think the music itself is a big part of it. Like the Promise Ring, New End Original are leaving behind those emo trappings and instead of following the formats set by their much less talented brethren, and are making a hybrid of rock and roll; imagine, if you will, at some point, two emo kids running into each other: "dude, you got rock in my emo!" "dude, you got emo in my rock!" Emo-rock? Yeah, that's a good term for it.

What makes this record awesome is the fact that there's so much going on. From loud, fast-tempo rockers like "14 to 41," to down tempo, piano ballads such as "Leper Song," to the downright moody, dark moments of "Hostage," which leads in with a drum solo (that sounds not unlike Jimmy Eat World's "Clarity") and an ominous guitar line, before Matranga starts singing in a hurt, disturbed manner. It's a nice combination, really. He has a good singing voice, and it's always enjoyable to finally hear someone that can actually carry a tune.

What makes Thriller even more enjoyable is the fact that this awesome record is but their debut. They're a humble lot; in their press release, Matranga admitted that their previous bands had been "goal and ambition oriented" and that with New End Original, they're seeking a fresh start, and that "we don't have any interest in being a machine. We'd rather be a band." Humble words, indeed! With sincerity in check, and from the hard-rocking pop beginning of "Lukewarm" to the emotional, pleading refrain of " I'm better than nothing, and nothing is better than this" of "Better Than This," New End Original offer nothing but a new twist on that whole rock and roll thing we've come to loathe. Thriller is, indeed.

--Joseph Kyle

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