The Whites of Their Eyes
Give Up Your Ghost Records
Reviewed by Kent Manthie
The band that Brian Warren left to form Weatherbox, Mister Valentine is, in comparison, an edgier, more volatile-sounding band that has a very emotional box of dead roses it wears on its shredded sleeve.
The Whites of Their Eyes starts off with a cathartic punk/emo/pop song “Kissing Braille”, which seamlessly goes right into the next tune, “Asleep at the Switch”, also a screaming, hot tempered-sounding anthem. They could be put into the same sort of box as other bands that are big with all the kids these days, like Linkin Park, Green Day, etc. But since Mister Valentine is a newer band and not as “old” as the geezers in Green Day, they have a bit of a harder edge to their style and are still white hot, in terms of the music they play and the attitude that comes across. Tried to find a lot more about them, but, alas, there is not too much to be found except a MySpace page that has no biographical information on the band or their members, one of which is Brian Warren, who just started Weatherbox, after splitting Mr. Valentine. Also, according to the liner notes, there is George on guitar and “off-tempo hand claps”, Marc on drums, shakers and “sass”, Andy on bass, effects and “beard” as well as the inimitable John on vocals and “vampire” (Brian’s description has him as “guitar, vocals and “bitching”). When also going through the liner notes on the CD sleeve, I found a website that I thought I could get to and find out some more information on these guys, but, www.mistervalentine.net turned out to be not a website that had anything to do with this band, but was, rather, a site that looked as if it was some sort of men’s info site, with links on the front page to “Heart Attack Women”, “Symptoms of a heart attack”, “Queen Tribute Bands” (of which Mister Valentine is not one), “Valentine Card”, Queen Crescent Hotel”, “Heart attack symptoms in Men” and a few other assorted, totally unrelated things to this band. I don’t know if that was some goof or if they thought that was their domain name but it turns out not to be (I also checked “mistervalentine.com” as well, just in case it was a mistake of “.net vs .com” but that just brought me to a page that was hawking domain names.
So, the mysterious, San Diego-based band continues to elude reviewers. I could email them at the address they provided, but then I’d have to wait for an answer and I don’t really like telling bands that I’m reviewing their album, then that gets their hopes up and if you don’t come through they’ll think you’re a jerk or something.
Anyway, this six-track CD is a whole lot of faux-angst – screaming and rip-roaring guitars, someone was getting something off their chest. These days it’s so hard to sometimes tell the sincere apart from the gimmicky. Who knows, though, maybe Mister Valentine have some sincerity but they only have a gimmicky-sounding way of getting their point across.
One thing they do need to work on is diversity in their sound. I mean, seriously, between the opening cut –the aforementioned, “Kissing Braille” to the closer, “Don’t Mess With Orbital, Texas”…well, put it this way: if you weren’t really paying attention to each song and keeping track of one after the other and were doing something else at the same time, like writing a paper, cleaning the house or having sex then it’s almost like you’re listening to the same song over and over again. Hint: don’t write all your songs in one day, maybe do a cover of some obscure old song (not some classic rock heavy-rotation oldie) and listen to a variety of genres to help develop your style. Those are just a few helpful ideas of what you might want to do to try and get a more distinct style,
For now, though, I don’t think I’m going to listen to The Whites of Their Eyes over and over again. But, here’s hoping they get it right next time around. -KM