No Longer Free Agent(s)

Artist: Agent

Album: I Wouldn't Trade That For Anything

Label: N/A

Release: OUT NOW!

There's a reason why these gentlemen are now on the same label as Crime In Stereo and Nightmare of You, and why they are slated to share the stage with Have Heart and Verse on the 19th: They're everything you want out of a Melodic Hardcore band from Long Island. Notice I did not say expect. Although having the great misfortune of playing a "genre" that, some claim, can get repetitive and produce a multitude of carbon copies of the more renowned acts, this release not only sets them apart from the rest, but manages to evoke a sense of nostalgia for the days when you were growing up and first discovering punk rock and hardcore bands. The sing along's are there, as well as the one liners that (and let's not lie to ourselves here) we all love to hear and put in our away messages and Myspace headlines. To say that this release will get your toe tapping is the understatement of the decade. However, sticking to the typical hardcore platform (and what is usually a justification, to some, for avoiding it) the quality of the recording for this record is nowhere near the quality one gets from major label releases, though that is what makes this EP, and this band, so enticing: there's no intimidation factor. You feel as if you're listening to an EP your best friend's band just released: You can relate, it's not over-produced, and the rough around the edges sound makes what's being sung all the more tangible. The singer does not have the best voice you will ever hear, the guitar lines/chord progressions may not seem all that complex, but that's why you turn to hardcore, is it not? For fans of the Movielife, LIFETIME, and early Saves the Day, hop on this bandwagon now so you can arrogantly tell all of your friends "I was there BEFORE they were huge."

The first track "Anywhere is Better Than Here" is actually my least favorite track of the release. It seems restricted in the sense that the real sound of which they are capable is not shining through here. You get a little blip of life between the cliche lyrics and diluted tempo, but the band is best when they're playing frantically fast and loud, and you don't get that sense from this first track. Why the love affair then?

The second track "I'm Fucking Sick of People Leaving and Not Saying Goodbye" is by far the standout, albeit only one minute long. Which is quite the accomplishment considering the length, but that's probably because you can't just listen to it once. The outstanding lyrics aside, this would have been the perfect opener, fast, right to the point, the way hardcore should be. It's currently up on their Myspace and seeing as how this will be hard to come across other than purchasing it online, at least give this one a listen, it is sure to captivate you.

Third we have "Trying My Best" where, again, the band decides to go with an upbeat tempo and pulls it off very nicely. Throughout this song you are actually able to picture yourself singing along in the crowd, trying to climb up on people's shoulders in an attempt to grab the microphone and scream those heartfelt lyrics right back into the singer's face. Great placement here with this track, perfect for the middle of the EP as a way to bring everything together in a coherent manner.

"This is Getting Old" is one of those tracks that pulls at your heart strings. From the intro you get a real sense of this song and the direction it's going to go in. Nostalgia drips from the guitars and lyrics while you can't help but think back to "the good old days." A perfect example of how music should affect people, it really evokes a lot of emotion from the listener and you have a deep sense of understanding about the story being told here.


The last track of the album "Too Close for Comfort," in which the band makes a statement against the monotony of a music scene in which the cliche gets rewarded while it seems originality is cast aside and very rarely rewarded in a big way. Surprised to hear dueling guitar lines at the beginning of this song, first thought is that this will be reminiscent to the first track. However, the message in this one is much stronger and the music behind the lyrics is very appropriate for what they're trying to convey. This song defies all of the logic that one applies to melodic hardcore: this is where the band is taking a stand and saying, both literally and musically, that they'll do things their own way and that they don't exist just to fill a mold of expectation that has been set by everyone around them. This leaves the listener with great anticipation for the next release, to see where this band has taken themselves, and if they're concerned about their critics who will most certainly berate them if they don't "hold on to their hardcore roots" and go the way of Crime in Stereo.

Either way, for what this EP represents: a band on the rise in a genre that isn't as popular as it used to be, this is a solid release that you won't regret going out of your way to pick up. As I mentioned the difficulty with the availability of this, as well as possibly exposing some people to great music, Agent will be playing a show this upcoming Saturday, the 19th, at the Deer Park VFW Hall, 588 Long Island Avenue, Deer Park, NY, at 6:30 PM with Have Heart and Verse, where this EP will be available. It's at 6:30 PM and is $10 at the door. Look at that, music reviews and night life suggestions, who's better than us?

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