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Before the Robots

Before the Robots

4.8 17
by Better Than Ezra
Despite what would appear to be more than four years on the sidelines, you can't -- to quote L.L. Cool J -- call this a comeback for Better Than Ezra. The trio spent plenty of time in record company limbo, but they never stopped touring, nor did frontman Kevin Griffin ever stop turning out tunes that lodge readily in the gray matter.


Despite what would appear to be more than four years on the sidelines, you can't -- to quote L.L. Cool J -- call this a comeback for Better Than Ezra. The trio spent plenty of time in record company limbo, but they never stopped touring, nor did frontman Kevin Griffin ever stop turning out tunes that lodge readily in the gray matter. Griffin has a knack for writing songs that could pass for miniature short stories, although he never goes out of his way to pat himself on the back for his literacy. That helps imbue songs like the surprisingly rough-edged "A Southern Thang" -- a postmodern take on the Bonnie and Clyde story -- with a cinematic immediacy. It's also central to getting across the poignancy of "A Lifetime," a swelling allegory about life's fragility that's housed in a compact tale of friends getting together to remember a girl killed in an auto accident. While much of the disc will be familiar to folks schooled in the sounds that marked the first four BTE offerings, there are a few curve balls secreted within. Take the surreptitiously sexy "It's Only Natural," which was written in tandem with San Diego glamsters Louis XIV -- whose Brian Harcsig lends some vocal help to the tune. Another left turn comes on "Juicy," a disco-fried biscuit that slips 'n' slides niftily through its paces, lifted by Griffin's falsetto and the steamy organ playing of Papa Grows Funk keyboardist John Gross. None of the side trips are so far out as to put off fans who came to enjoy the band back in the day -- but most are scenic enough to entice those who might be new to the Land of Ez.

Editorial Reviews

All Music Guide - Stephen Thomas Erlewine
With the rather cryptically titled Before the Robots, Better Than Ezra settles down into a comfortable adult pop groove, no longer dabbling in the hip-hop and electronica that has surfaced on every album since 1997's How Does Your Garden Grow? In its place is a surprisingly soulful undercurrent that surfaces on such laid-back highlights as "Daylight" and "It's Only Natural." Instead of pointing Better Than Ezra in a new direction, these soulful pop tunes are used as accents on a collection of straight-ahead, anthemic, songwriter-driven rock. While there are still some snarls of electric guitars, Before the Robots is largely a meditative work, built on acoustic guitars; even when it hits hard and gets loud, it's with layers of vocal harmonies, keyboards, and guitars creating a rush of sound, emphasizing the emotional thrust of songwriter Kevin Griffin's songs. There are some light moments here -- including the supremely silly but infectious "Juicy," where Griffin struts a rarely heard falsetto over a funky vamp -- but the overall tone of the record drives from the melancholy, vaguely nostalgic vibe of such songs as "A Lifetime," "American Dream," and "Our Finest Year." These reflective sentiments add weight to Better Than Ezra's earnest rock, and help make Before the Robots one of the group's sturdiest, most satisfying albums.

Product Details

Release Date:
Indieblue Music


Album Credits

Performance Credits

Better Than Ezra   Primary Artist
Kevin Griffin   Guitar,Piano,Vocals,Group Member
Travis Aaron McNabb   Drums,Group Member
Mark Mullins   Trombone,Musician
Tom Drummond   Bass,Group Member
Jason Hill   Background Vocals,Musician
John Gros   Hammond Organ,fender rhodes,Musician
Brian Karscig   Background Vocals,Musician

Technical Credits

Better Than Ezra   Producer,Audio Production
Ethan Allen   Producer,Audio Production
Greg Collins   Engineer
Jeff Blue   Producer
Jason Hill   Composer
John Gros   Contributor
Brian Karscig   Composer
Brett Calzada   Artwork
Stephen Hutton   Management
Kevin Spellman   Management

Customer Reviews

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Before the Robots 4.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once upon a time, there was an album called "Before the Robots." Even when it was very young (less than a month old :-0) it had magical powers. It had the power to make people laugh, cry, or get up and dance around the room for no particular reason. All its little baby album parts had a hand in this magic, which we will call Better Than Ezra magic. The Better Than Ezra magic had been experienced before in other albums, but this album was "Special." It leaves you feeling "Breathless" because it's content is so "Juicy." "It's Only Natural" that you will love this album and be "Overcome" by the range of fun, sad, touching, and powerful songs. It is my belief that before next May, Better Than Ezra will be saying that this has been "Our Finest Year." "Before the Robots" is the band's best album to date and you will not be disappointed by it. I promise. It is truly an album of "A Lifetime." And they all lived happily ever after. The End
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first bought Better Than Ezra’s “Before The Robots,” I was afraid that it would not live up to my high expectations. However, upon listening to this gem, I was delighted to find that I was far from disappointed! If you are familiar with BTE’s previous works, I would place Robots’ style somewhere between How Does Your Garden Grow? and Closer. It’s a bit more rockin’ than Closer, and a bit more digestible than Garden. If you are not familiar with BTE, Before The Robots is a great place to start! This album has layers of qualities that are sure to please. The music itself is textured with many elements you will gradually catch after each listen (especially if you have a good set of headphones) and the lyrics are catchy, meaningful and they beg you to sing along. It also contains experimentation with different styles especially It’s Only Natural (a funky yet dark song co-written with the band formerly known as Convoy), Overcome, and Juicy. One quality that really stands out on this album is its ability to relate to the listener on an emotional level in describing various aspects of the human situation (especially Burned, Daylight, Overcome, Special, Our Last Night, Our Finest Year, and Breathless). Don’t be surprised if you shed a tear or two. A Lifetime, Hollow, Southern Thing, and American Dream display Kevin Griffin’s knack at writing story-telling songs. In addition, Kevin Griffin utilizes his incredible vocal range to its fullest while preserving his powerful ability to sing with sincere feeling and emotion. Overall, Before The Robots conveys Better Than Ezra’s vivacity and optimism in painful and trying situations, which is refreshing in the midst of the darkness and pessimism that seems to overpower alternative music today.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I usually take a few listens to really get into a Better Than Ezra album--usually it doesn't happen until I've seen them perform the new songs live. However, this one is full of instantly accessible hits. My current favesare Breathless and Our Last Night. Songwriter Kevin Griffin really knows how to convey emotions through his lyrics and voal style. This is a beautiful album full of some real tearjerkers.
Guest More than 1 year ago
GREAT album. Good to finally have new material from BTE. Album runs through every emotion possible. My Favorie tracks #2 Daylight, #3 Lifetime, #9 Southern Thing. Don't pass this album up, it is a must buy. Also look for BTE playing in a city near you!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great cd! I am a big fan of Better than Ezra and this is one of their best albums yet. It has the Bte sound but also sounds new and different. I can't say enough good things about the band or this album. I also agree with the other review: they are also definitely worth seeing live!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Better than Ezra has always been one of those bands that people have heard of but don't realize it. They've been around for 17 years, quietly releasing quality music album after album. Their latest effort, Before The Robots, should remedy their anonymity. There's something for everyone here. The album kicks off with "Burned" which is a soaring pop-rock anthem that is instantly likeable. You'll find yourself singing along during the first listen. "Daylight" is a melancholy ballad that describes emotions every person alive has felt at some point in time. The first single, "A Lifetime", will pull listeners in with it's bittersweet lyrics about going on with your life after the loss of a friend. For the funk lovers out there, we have the downright sexy "It's Only Natural" and the silly but so addictive "Juicy". Those two songs not only illustrate the range Better than Ezra has, it shows that they are willing to experiment with their sound and that's a good thing. "A Southern Thing" is a catchy, guitar driven song that echoes their southern rock roots. "American Dream" and "Hollow" are insigtful commentaries on life not ending up exactly the way you planned despite your best efforts. "Overcome" and "Breathless" could be about the same relationship at different, equally intense moments. For those of us who have dreamed about having that unrequited crush finally see the light, this album has "Special" which is one of the best songs on an already stellar album. Those who have loved and lost aren't forgotten either. "Our Last Night" is a look back at a night two lovers said goodbye for the last time without knowing it was the last time. Before the Robots is the real deal. It's the perfect album for a summer roadtrip; driving down the interstate with the windows rolled down, singing along at the top of your lungs. Actually, with the spectrum of emotions it covers in it's 13 tracks, it could be a soundtrack for your life.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Before The Robots, the newest installment by Better Than Ezra is sure to put this band back at the top of the charts. Whether a dedicated Ezralite or a newcomer to the sensational sound of BTE, this record will surely please. I recently received my pre-ordered copy of the new album and I must say I am blown away. A long time fan of BTE I cant say that I didn’t expect it to be good, but I can say it's better than I ever imagined! The hit single A Lifetime is reason enough to buy the CD, but if you need more, then don’t count it out just yet. With sure to be singles like Daylight, American Dream, & Breathless to name a few, this album is a no-brainer for those looking to pop in a CD and just drive!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I'm Overcome by how Special this CD is. BTE's music is going to last A Lifetime. Before the Robots has left me Breathless.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The tale goes that drummer Travis McNabb awoke from a dream & asked Kevin Griffin & Tom Drummond if there was a British band called Before the Robots. They said no- & Travis said, then thats the name of our new cd. So here it is- and the much anticipated cd is a mix of catchy songs, "songs for the ladies" as Kevin likes to call them, and obvious hard work by these rockers who have been around the scene nearly 20 years since their days at LSU. My faves- Breathless (if i get married, its my wedding song!), Overcome (recently featured at the end of a "One Tree Hill" episode), Juicy (catchy/dancy), and of course A Lifetime. You cant go wrong by investing in a cd by these guys!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The latest CD from Better Than Ezra has a great mix of songs, some are along the lines of the typical BTE style, while there are few that are unexpectedly awesome on the album. American Dream, Our Last Night, Our Finest Year, and Breathless demonstrate how BTE has grown and give the listener a new appreciation for their music. Combine those four with the hit song A Lifetime, and this CD is a must have for both die-hard BTE fans and newcomers alike. You won’t be disappointed.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How could we go another summer without a new BTE album? Definitely worth the wait. From the no-fail "A Lifetime" to the newest titles such as "Daylight," "Special," and "A Southern Thing," this is bound to be one of their greatest creations yet. Once you've worn out your cd player you have to check them out live. Good job, guys!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Better Than Ezra came out swinging with their fifth studio album aptly titled "Before The Robots". After forming in 1988 Better Than Ezra went on to much success after the release of Deluxe in 1995 due inpart to the smash single "Good". Kevin Griffin showed off his knack for writing ultra-catchy songs that have proven to be somewhat timeless. That has continued on every record since Deluxe. Before The Robots had been finished for quite sometime. After seeing the band perform in Chicago in November of 2004, they thought the album was slated to arrive in March of 2005. To no avail it was pushed back until April 26, 2005, then pushed back again to May 31, 2005. This is only typical record company fare, pushing back albums because certain deadlines aren't met, or due to competing with other albums released around the same time. Better Than Ezra released Before The Robots, and they definitely delivered. You can see the band's passion for pop sensibility in every song on this album. It's another great addition to the already wonderful catalog the band has supplied for the last 10 years. From Burned to Breathless the guys deliver an album worth listening to over and over again, and Kevin Griffin truly shows his song writing chops. Stand out tracks include, Burned, Daylight, the lead single from the album A Lifetime (which originally appeared on 2001's Closer), A Southern Thang, and Breathless. Not to mention the funk-laden Juicy. On a whole BTE doesn't disappoint and never has. If you haven't seen them live, see them live because their live show only adds to the experience of listening to their albums.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Whether you are a long time Better than Ezra (BTE) fan or a BTE newbie "Before the Robots" is a great album. You will enjoy every tract on this CD. Lead vocalist/songwriter Kevin Griffin is a masterful storyteller who is able to transport you to a different time and place. It seems that with each song there is a verse or theme that the listener can connect to and you actually experience the emotion in the song. "American Dream" makes one relate to the struggles of trying to be successful in America. "Daylight" reminds you of the joys and pains of being in love. Plus its just wonderful music that makes you want to listen to the CD over and over again.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Better than ezra is a band that has been around for years and has always continued to play music from the heart. They never had given in to playing "what was cool" at the time. The lyrics are emotional and always seem to make you feel like you can relate to what is being said. Each song on this album is great and once you listen to this CD once, you will soon be playing it on repeat--I guarantee it. If you ever get the chance, check this band out live--they put on the best live show I have ever had the pleasure of seeing. Buy this album.. NOW!! you won't regret it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Better than Ezra broke the bank with this one. These guys are good! Every song on this CD is worth airtime. I really enjoyed American Dream and A Lifetime!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Better than Ezra, one of the most highly under-rated bands today, hit one out of the park with this new release. All of the songs are unique, yet equally worth listening to. This is one of the few CD's out there that you can truly listen to the whole thing, without skipping a song! Kevin Griffin's great voice, combined with his amazing lyrics are second to none!