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Jun 13, 2011

ARTICLE: Stagg reviewer has My Chemical Romance in her sights

The Record-sponsored high school journalism contest - in its fifth year - is open to students across San Joaquin County. This is the winning entry for reviews.
More than just a summary, good criticism should offer a careful blend of analysis and opinion that ultimately helps readers decide how to spend their time. In undertaking her review of a new My Chemical Romance album, first-place winner Mikeala Axton of Stagg High School found herself struggling with how to deliver a fair critique within the context of her "deep-rooted love for the band." We thought she was successful. "You're a fan, you like the music, but you're able to articulate your reasons ... in a compelling way," one judge wrote. "It makes it useful to a reader interested in giving the new work a listen." Find the second-place winning entry by Marlena Sauceda (Tokay High School) at No third-place award was given.
Judge's note: "I like the style of your writing. I had fun reading this."

Back with a bang

If, four years ago, you looked at My Chemical Romance and thought to yourself, "Hmmm, one day they'll misplace their eyeliner and write an album full of upbeat songs and bright colors," you would have been crazy. You also would have been right.
MCR has plunged into its fourth studio album - twice, in fact, considering the band wrote, recorded and trashed an entire album before releasing "Danger Days: The True Lives of The Fabulous Killjoys."
The album contains a loose storyline, set in California 2019, in the wake of an environmental disaster. The world has been taken over by a brainwashing behemoth known as Better Living Industries, or BL/ind. The band is cast as a color-clad, raygun-wielding rebel force against BL/ind agents.
If this is starting to sound like the familiar, storytelling My Chem album, worry no more. Gone are the days it took a shovel to dig through the band's sweeping metaphors and imagery (however enjoyable the process).
The listener is guided through the album by pirate radio disc jockey Dr. Death-Defying, who opens the blazing first track, "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)." This first single sets the tone for the rest of the album, reeking of high speeds, fast times and an element of fun rarely heard from MCR.
"SING" evokes a similar feeling of defiance : "I am not the singer that you wanted/ But a dancer/ I refuse to answer."
A track few would have expected from MCR, "Planetary (GO!)" is a rip-roaring, electronics-infused dance song. The seemingly uncharacteristic melody is backed by frontman Gerard Way's ever-impassioned lyrics, spitting that "My word is the Beretta/ the sound of my vendetta," an open revolt against all things sterile, ingestible and safe.
"Planetary (GO!)" makes you want to dance like a complete idiot. Fortunately, it also arms you with an attitude that doesn't care what other people think (especially what they think of your wicked dance moves).
Closing out the album is the old-school-punk-all-over "Vampire Money," an homage to bands like the Stooges and direct reference to glam greats like David Bowie and Marc Bolan of T.Rex. The song is a blistering commentary on the recent vampire craze and a thrashing, resounding "No" to suggestions that the band get in on all the "vampire money" that the trend has to offer. And while some may say that this track is MCR stealing from the classic punk handbook, it feels more like them adding their own page than anything else.
My Chem has never been shy about voicing its influences (like comic-book veteran Grant Morrison, who appears in the band's recent music videos) and this album is no exception, with shout-outs to the Stooges and others like MC5 ("Light up the stage and watch me kick out the jams!" commands Way on "Party Poison").
"Danger Days" is a rebellion, a fun loud rebellion, armed with pounding drums, savage guitar anthems and Way's aural assault on all the misfortunes and criticisms stacked against them, and a sure sign of the good times to come.


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