3CG Studios: Tulsa, OK
Sunset Sound: Los Angeles, CA
Traversing musical genres like nobody's business
I put off writing about Anthem for several months after the album, because the album wasn't what I was expecting. All of Hanson's albums up to this point have had a cohesive feel to them, both thematically and musically. This one doesn't. The songs each have their own feel, taking on a hint of Queen, Michael Jackson, Shout It Out, and Tinted Windows as well as a few Hansonish ballads. On top of that, the songs are a lot.. simpler. Less arangement, less harmony, more straight-up 'this is what you get' pop rock. It was a big change from Shout It Out's soul groove, and I wasn't sure if I liked it. I enjoyed Juliet from the first listen, but the rest of the album didn't start to grow on me until I heard it live at Hanson's 2013 shows in Calgary and Edmonton. It's definitely an album best heard live.
And thus we find ourselves at the core of AnthemĎs problems: Itís fine enough, but itís just not memorable in any real tangible way. Sometimes, expectations can cloud opinions, and as anyone whoís ever been let down before could tell you, even managed expectations can lead to an unfair interpretation of work that isnít nearly as bad as it first seems. Here, though, Hanson show no signs of permanently setting up shop anywhere near Calumet City, Illinois, suggesting that their previous visit with Tom ďBonesĒ Malone or Matt ďGuitarĒ Murphy may very well have been their last. And thatís a shame, too, because expectations or not, Shout It Out traveled somewhere beyond good and wound up settling near great. Anthem, however, struggles just to be OK.
And while we all know OK is a lot better than bad, itís still so far away from great.
The First Single
The album art for Shout it Out was designed by Hanson and created with a combination of love, impatience, and cheap acrylic paint.
This album features a pop-art theme, with bold primary colors and simplistic black brushwork. The symbols and paintings/sketches were done by Hanson themselves, in a fit of creative comraderie.
I'm still not sure if I like the artwork or not. I do like the photos, though - they've got some good shots.
Produced, written, and performed by Hanson / Engineered by Ryan Williamson / Recorded @ Sonic Ranch, El Paso TX and 3CG Studios, Tulsa OK / Assisted by Manuel Calderon & Charles Godfrey / Additional recording by Steve Churchyard @ Sunset Sound, Los Angeles CA / Assisted by David Schwerkolt / Mixed by Tom Lord-Alge @ South Beach Studios, Miami Beach FL / All songs I. Hanson, T. Hanson, Z., Hanson - Jam 'n' Bread Music (ASCAP) / Warner/Chappell Music / Mastered by Andrew Mendelson @ Georgetown Masters, Nashville TN
Isaac Hanson - vocals, electric & acoustic guitars, bass, claps / Taylor Hanson - vocals, piano, B3, organ, Wurlitzer, Rhodes, drums, congas, percussion, claps / Zachary Hanson - vocals, drums, percussion, piano, Wurlitzer, claps / Joe Karnes - bass on Get The Girl Back, I've Got Soul, Juliet, Get So Low, For Your Love, Tragic Symphony, Cut Right Through Me and All I Ever Needed / Chad Copelin - Bass on Lost Without You / Michael 'Fitz' Fitzpatrick - Vocals on Get The Girl Back and I've Got Soul / Jerry Hey - Horn arranger on Get The Girl Back / Gary Grant - trumpet on Get The Girl Back / Dan Fornero - trumpet on Get The Girl Back / Dan Higgins - saxes on Get The Girl Back / Bill Rienchenbach - trombone on Get The Girl Back / Tom 'Bones' Malone - horn arrangements, trumpet, saxes and trombone on I've Got Soul and Get So Low / Imani Coppola - String arrangements, violin 1 and viola on Tragic Symphony / Curtis Stewart - volin on Tragic Symphony / Yuri Lemeshev - accordion on Save Me From Myself
THANK YOU'S: We are grateful for the privilege of spending years dedicated to our passion, supported by our family and team and a collection of fans from many corners of the world. We are humbled by this privilege, and are forever grateful for the grace which we have been given to maintain this path for more than two decades. / Thank you to our incredible families. Taylor: Natalie, Ezra, Penelope, River, Viggo and Whilhelmina; Isaac: Nikki, Everett and Monroe; Zac: Kate, Shepherd and Junia; for daily inspiration and love, and boundless fortitude. Our parents, Walker and Diana for their dedication and belief in us from the start, and our siblings, Zoe, Mac, Avery and Jessica for their love and support.
To the team that helped us create this music: Ryan Williamson our brother in arms who helped craft sounds both beautiful and dangerous; Tony Rancich for his magic and mystery as a guide to pursue excursion-ary value, Charles Godfrey, Manuel Calderon, Marco Ramirez, Zach Mauldin, Sonya and everyone at Sonic Ranch for helping us get this ANTHEM off the ground, also to our musical neighbors out in the desert, the whole Gogol Bordello outfit, for the shared music and the open table; Steve Churchyard for being the first to push us all the way up to the console back in the day, and for your effortless sonic skill; Tom Lord-Alge for rejoining us on our musical trek and bringing more than a little "Quality" spank, and to Femio, Joe Galdo and the crew at South Beach Studios for their hospitality at every turn; Tom 'Bones' Malone for his class, and bad-ass horn skills; Jerry Hey for always bringing melodic mastery into the song and to his crew Gary Grant, Dan Fornero, Dan Higgins and Bill Reichenbach for bringing the heat; Imani Coppola for adding melody and melancholy in all the right ways; Chad Copelin for rounding out the Oklahoma Groove; Joe Karnes for his groove mastery, and Michael Fitzpatrick for bringing the soul; Andrew Mendelson and Daniel Bacigalupi at Georgetown Masters for the finishing touch.
We owe a great deal to our tireless team, those in the garage and some spread far and wide, for making it possible to complete this ANTHEM and share it with the world. To Rebecca, for showing unwavering dedication to our little engine that can. To Jessica for her consistent conviction and creativity, to Walker for taking on the paper cuts and the splinters all for the cause. To Leigh for boldly taking on writing new rules to this old game, to Mike for helping tackle the new equations that helped make this epic project a success, and to Joseph for helping take the music to the borderline and back again.
Finally thank you to the giver of grace and peace, our light and life. Thank you, Jesus. / Additional thanks to those that have been a part of spreading the word and telling the story.
To a group of friends who helped us start to tell the story of this album with the first video: Kat Dennings, Nikki Reed, Alex Beh, Drew Seeley, Paul McDonald, Amy Paffrath and Drake Bell, and to Adam Neustader and his team.
Kelly Musgrave @ Nettwerk, Brian Klein, David Schwerkolt and Craig Hubler @ Sunset Sound for another great session; Mike Selverne @ Selverne & Co, Neil Warnock, Steve Martin, Dave Shapiro, Colin Lewis, Nick Meinema @ The Agency Group; Ken Weinstein @ Big Hassle; Tracy Brown, Drew Murray, Bebop Hobel, Patti Martin, Lida Galka, Willam Marion @ CO5; Lisa Frank; Rick Krim, Sandy Alouete & Jackie Milwich @ VH1; Trevor & Lisa Neimann @ Visual Entropy, Aaron Whisner @ live4this; George Vuckovic @ Tilted; Jiro Schneider, Jilann O'Neill, Miles Siggins, Brian Welsh @ Good Company, Todd Banhazl and Peter Maestrey; ML Procise @ Clair, Elliott Eicheldinger, Tiffany Napper and Megan Kuhlenschmidt @ Yamaha, Tim Goodwin @ Taylor Guitars, Curt Magnan @ Curt Magnan, Bryan Rushton and Mike Ciprari @ SJC drums, Chris Brady @ Aquarian, Kirsten Matt @ Zildjian, Jen Tooke @ Promark, Dimitrius Collins, William Birckhead, Mike Fanuele and Bryan "Muff" Hargrave.