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Thursday, March 30th
The Critics Corner: Albums
A Rocket to the Moon
A Rocket To The Moon- On Your Side
Solid sophomore effort shines
On Your Side
Name: "On Your Side"
Label: A Rocket to the Moon
Release Date: October 13, 2009
My rating: 4.6 out of 5


Review written by: Ashley Fox
A Rocket to the Moon started as a one man band fronted by Nick Santino in 2006  with a decent following and an electronic feel to the music he created. After a couple years of hard work, Nick formed a band with Brighten’s Justin Richards, Eric Halvorson, and eventually rounding it out with Andrew Cook. With a band behind him, getting signed to Fueled By Ramen and releasing “Greetings From..” in 2008 with label backing, Nick Santino’s little project quickly became something to watch out for. Talks of a new album brought questions on the direction that Rocket would take, and wonder whether it would officially break out A Rocket to the Moon. We’ve all witnessed it, bands releasing kick ass eps, followed by not so great albums and a slow fall from there. With “On Your Side” Nick Santino and the band have nothing to worry about. Boys, It’s time to enjoy the ride.

The album opens up with “Annabelle”, one of two new songs that had been released before the dropping of the full length, and defiantly a golden chance to get people excited. It’s one of the catchiest songs on the album. “Annabelle” is the kind of song that fans of “Greetings From..” will find comfort in.

The next song is the other single that was dropped before the official release of “On Your Side”. “Mr. Right” is similar to “Annabelle” in the aspect that it has good energy and was the song that had me sold on the album itself.  You can defiantly hear the “Justin Richards touch” on this song as it plays out similar to what could have been an “Early Love” b-side, not that anyone should be complaining. It also is one of the strongest songs lyrically, boasting “Maybe I'm your Mr. Right/Baby, maybe I'm the one you like/Maybe I'm a shot in the dark/and you're the morning light/Maybe this is sad but true/Baby, maybe you've got nothing to lose/You could be the best for me/when I'm the worst for you.”

Rocket changes it up with “She’s Killing Me”. It is one of the weaker songs on the album, not weak in general, but it’s placement in the third slot doesn’t do it any justice. It’s less catchy then the previous songs. Everything slows down even more so with “On a Lonely Night”. Nick’s voice mixed with the female vocals make a strong impact on the listen and sound very pleasing together. The song as a whole has a much more “mainstream country” sound to it, defiantly differing from everything that Nick has done in the past. Different isn’t worse though, the main thing that “On a Lonely Night” proves is that Nick can vary on where he goes musically, and that has the talent to do it well.

“Dakota” is an old fan favorite and a song that doesn’t need to be on “On Your Side”. The make over of what was a big hit from “Greetings From..” doesn’t do the song any justice. The song has the same base that the original version had, but with a much more toned down feeling. A new Rocket song would have done a much better job on the full length rather then repeating and messing with something that was good.

“Life of the Party” takes it back to the beginning of A Rocket to the Moon in some ways. It’s reminiscent of the “Summer of ’07 ep” and “Your Best Idea” with the bit of electronic and upbeat feeling of it. The beginning feels a bit like a Katy Perry song, the chorus has a taste of bands like The Maine, and who can deny gang vocals? If any song of the album was is one to just let go to, it’s this track.

Everything gets slowed down once again with what feels like the male version of a Taylor Swift song, “Like We Used To”. It is by far the most mature song on the album. The vocals are the strongest, the lyrics are the strongest and the musicianship is the most impressive yet. It’s a love song with out the gush and genericness.

“Where Did You Go” starts off with a Postal Service esq introduction and keeps that along with bringing in some of that country feel as well. Neither genre seems like they could fit together, but somehow A Rocket to the Moon has tied them together to make them work. The lyrics themselves are a bit repetitive and doesn’t do much aesthetically until about 2 minutes in with the change of pace and a new dynamic.

Following “Where Did You Go” is “Sometimes”. This is one of the best tracks on the album, and a very unexpected addition. It’s a bit slowed down, but still well paced. Yet another song with guest vocals and yet again very well done. “Sometimes” is a bit more jazzy, Eye Alaska esq song, yet again proving that no matter which genre Rocket chooses to play with, they are a band of talent.

“Baby Blue Eyes” almost feels like a repeat. It was done with “Like We Used To” and touched upon in “On a Lonely Night”. It’s a skippable song with nothing new touched upon. Without the aforementioned songs on the album, it would have shined a lot brighter, but unfortunately it appears late and comes in last place.

“Give a Damn” takes me back to the nineties, with feel good beats and gang vocals. The guitar is the strongest on the track. And it’s very catchy in an old school, rock and roll kind of way. “Give a Damn” can easily stand on it’s own and has the potential to be a single.

The closing track is the title track “On Your Side”. The placement doesn’t seem right as the ending track, it’s as if a little moving around on the album could make it stand stronger. It’s yet another track with a tinge of the country appeal and you can clearly hear Justin’s part in the song, again, seeming as it could be confused as a Rocket track.

If there is one thing that A Rocket to the Moon is proving with their debut full length, it’s that they are a band of musicianship. No longer can they be pegged strictly as pop band, and very much deserve to stand on their own instead of being grouped in with the likes of The Maine and The Summer Set. There is a whole new level of maturity, a lot of well done diversity and very solid album. A Rocket to the Moon is going no where but up, expect them to be around for awhile. You’d be silly if you weren’t on their side.
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