What I’m Listening To: Evan Taubenfeld – Welcome To The Blacklist Club

Written By Simon Chisholm

Evan Taubenfeld kicked off his career as a band member, and co-writer for a few songs, for Avril Lavigne. In recent years however, he has been working as a producer and writer for other pop acts, as well as building up his own repertoire. ‘Welcome To The Blacklist Club’ is his debut solo album.

Welcome To the blacklist club

‘Welcome To The Blacklist Club’ is essentially radio friendly pop-rock aimed at the teeny demographic. Evan has written hard hitting, easy to sing along tracks. He has written songs about love, loss and relationships. Evan said during an interview that the overall theme of the album was a character wanting to fall in love.

“[Welcome to the Blacklist Club] is about being a hopeless romantic trapped under a cinnamon-coated shell that is L.A., I think your outside hardens when you live out here. Most people don’t express how much they want to fall in love. For me, half the album is about being able to expose that. The other half…is more about having fun.”

The tracks are not virtuosic, but are feel good pop fun. Evan has used some creative and interesting instrumentation arrangements. The many layered sounds He has used give each track a ‘big’ sound. Some of the identifiable layers include: Main vocal, vocal harmony, lead and rhythm guitars, synthesizers, electronic elements, glockenspiel, piano and strings. The instrumentation and the vocals compliment each other. Together they provides a feel that backs up the overall tone of each track.

Throughout each track, the sections vary, meaning repetition of verses doesn’t get tired. An example of this variation is adding or taking away a particular instrument, or even using a different amount of syllables in each line.

Taubenfeld’s rock influence shows. There are songs that feature guitar solos, which I am very happy about. Evan, as an accomplished guitarist, deserves to show of his skills. Evan also makes creative use of guitar effects (to set tone), guitar leads, and guitar riffs. He shows his punk rock roots through classic harmonic progressions.

My favourite tracks include ‘Razorblade Limeade’ (for the guitar work and harmonies) and ‘Evan Way’ ( for the neat  dramatic, contrasting build-up section).

I feel that the tracks on the second half of the album stand out more than those in the beginning.

It’s a shame that Warner Brothers dropped him from the label as this album shows extreme potential. Although this does free him up to co-write and produce other acts (recently on Black Cards).

Released in May 2010 by Sire Records. Produced by John Fields.

What I’m Listening To: Evan Taubenfeld – Welcome To The Blacklist Club


What I’m Listening To: Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown

Written By Simon Chisholm

‘21st Century Breakdown’ is essentially a sequel to 2004’s ‘American Idiot’. It has the same rock operah approach. It is also similar in the overall sound and impact. The release is dark and jaded with an ‘all hope is lost’ kind of vibe. I guess when you break it all down, Green Day have composed a slew of songs with the theme of social commentary and protest.

Apparently the album takes a ‘The Who’ inspired approach to a concept album, following two characters through turmoil created by government and other socially influential characters. An overall analysis may come to that conclusion, but when you focus of individual tracks, you find a number of songs about characters struggling with themselves and the world, and helping each other through the turmoil. I find the idea of the concept exciting, but when I listen, I like to think of the songs as tales of woe and reflection aimed at the youth of today.

While not virtuosic, the band has created tracks consisting of simple layers of instrumentation with the vocal as the focal point. The instrumentation consists of hyperactive drums, violent bass, thrashing guitars and Billy Joe’s trademark ‘blocked nose’ vocal delivery. The overall sound of the songs is powerful with arrangements that are crafted to create a sense of movement and progress through the story.

The melodies are simple, but easy to sing along. It is the words, however, that are the important thing anyway, the message. The chorus hooks are catchy and will be stuck in your head for days.

Some of the tracks are tired, heard it before, forced to reach the three minute goal and a strain to listen for the duration. However, the standout tracks hold you for their duration. Songs that stand out? Try: ‘21st Century Breakdown’, ‘Know Your Enemy’, ‘¡Viva La Gloria!’, ‘Last Night On Earth’, ‘East Jesus Nowhere’, ‘Peacemaker’, ‘Last Of The American Girls’,  and ’21 Guns’.

While listening I envision Mike Dirnt snarling while attacking the string of his bass while Tré wears a goofy grin with arms flailing around like dancing snakes on ecstasy.


Green Day is:

Billy Joe Armstring – Vocals, guitar, piano

Mike Dirnt – Bass, vocals

Tre Cool – Drums, percussion

Released in 2009 by Reprise records. Produced by Butch Vig and Green Day.

What I’m Listening To: Green Day – 21st Century Breakdown