COUNT THE STARS
NEVER BE TAKEN ALIVE
What first caught my ear with Count the Stars was the detail in which they extract their inspirations from both the Smiths and Cave In. Yet I'm not really hearing their alleged "emo bits" here, thankfully—emo-core can and frequently does suck my ass dry, and I've never quite understood what all that phony moping is about. Plus, emo songs sound more or less identical to the other bands on any given "sensitive" bill on any given night. Emo groups all go and dye their hair black, get star tattoos, wear T-shirts an eight-year-old would find snug, and sing about being misunderstood, but not this particular ensemble—they're far too upbeat to whine in public. Even amid morose song titles such as "Better Off Alone" and "Taking It All Back," Count the Stars can still announce with optimism that "the world can swallow you whole, but I will never be taken alive." Right there, an antidote to the toxin that's making far too many "acclaimed" bands sound the same.