Hey, Catch 22 fans! Are you ready for another round of the gritty vocal stylings of Tomas Kalnoky? Oh, that’s right, he left the band- but don’t worry! In his place, Jeff Davidson supplies witty lyrics along with his solid voice, making for a great follow up to Alone In A Crowd. Oh, that’s right! Jeff Davidson also left the band. So, naturally, Catch 22 has a great new voice for a new age of ska, right? Well, no, not exactly.
When everybody learned of Jeff Davidson’s departure, there was a multiple-month gap in which Catch fans wondered, “who will be the new lead singer?” After much speculation, we finally had our answer- Ryan Eldred, a current band member, would take on the singing duties. Early reports in were that it just wasn’t the same, and I didn’t want to believe it- as a devout Catch 22 fan, I wanted to believe the boys from New Jersey could rebound with a new album that reeked of punk-ska goodness.
In the end, the boys delivered- it was just a terrible delivery job. Our first peak at the new Catch 22, a song called “Wine Stained Lips”, was disappointing, to say the least. This rings true for the whole album- Ryan Eldred has a unique singing voice, but writes terrible lyrics and could not write a chorus if his life depended on it. “Rocky”, the opener on the album, sings a very true message- “it started with you, you started with me, it started w ith you, it ends with me.” And this could be painfully true- the end of the Catch 22 we know and love is imminent. The witty lyrics are gone- the memorable horns take the Less Than Jake “Anthem” route- there’s less and less of everything.
The most memorable song on this album, “Good Times”, is still extremely mediocre- it has it’s good parts and bad parts. The chorus of “Who can I count on? What can I count on? Where should I turn to? Why should I be with you” makes me cringe. Catch 22 certainly knows how to take the fire out of a song with a terrible chorus.
What’s so frustrating is the potential- there are some songs that show greatness, but never come close to achieving it. “Motown Cinderella” has a second chorus that transitions into a bridge that features Ryan Eldred flexing his vocals, reminiscent of Brand New’s Jesse Lacey in Deja Entendu. Yet something is missing- something that Jeff Davidson brought to the band, something that Tomas Kalnoky never failed to bring to the band.
“Dinosaur Sounds” held a lot of promise- songs like Dreams Of Venus and Chasing The Moon hold some temporary greatness- but they never quite reach it. It would seem the old Catch 22 we all know and love is forever gone. So here’s the bottom line- I think we should officially rename Catch 22- because a certain Streetlight Manifesto has earned the right to tote the name that synonymous with the Punk Ska that we all know and love.