Louder Now: Part Two [CD/DVD]
On July 7, 2007, Taking Back Sunday took the stage at Giants Stadium as part of the Live Earth concert series. Frontman Adam Lazzara strutted around in a whirlwind of sweat and tangled hair, looking great but sounding somewhat horrid, howling with intention but producing little more than an off-key yelp. For a band whose appeal relies so heavily on cathartic, high-pitched melodies, Taking Back Sunday took a serious hit that afternoon. Accordingly, it's a relief that the entire lineup sounds much better on Louder Now: Part Two, a two-disc collection that features live tracks, studio B-sides, and an accompanying live DVD. Taking Back Sunday may gravitate toward overwrought territory, but they're nevertheless one of the most successful bands in the emo genre, with three gold-selling records and two back-to-back debuts in the Billboard Top Ten. It's important, therefore, that they're able re-create such hitmaking music in a live setting, as it validates a genre that is often criticized as being little more than a studio creation. And for the most part, Louder Now: Part Two succeeds in erasing all recollections of that tone-deaf Live Earth performance, even if the two B-sides (including the memorable "Sleep") prove that Taking Back Sunday fare better in a studio setting. Returning fans will treasure these discs as the last remnants of Taking Back Sunday's most successful lineup, which includes Fred Mascherino (who left the group in October 2007 to pursue a solo career) on lead guitar and backing vocals. While Mascherino's tenure in TBS was short, his additions make for some of Louder Now: Part Two's best moments, from finger-tapped guitar solos during the louder songs to his drunken collaboration with Lazzara on the album's secret track (an irreverent rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas"). Lazzara is also in fine form here; he hits the notes, often nailing them with screeching accuracy, and the crowd easily forgives him when he snaps a guitar string and throws the instrument out of tune during "Divine Intervention." Louder Now: Part Two doesn't have to be this good, as the band's dedicated fan base would have purchased it regardless, but it's nice to know the band is looking out for everyone else as well.