Reviews

When We Break

Author: Dan Cwlekowski
08/19/2005 | Mammothpress.com | www.mammothpress.com | Album Review
Imagine if you were able to attend one of the best law schools in America, and make such a good living as a lawyer that you'd be set for the rest of your life. Now imagine giving all of that up to play in a rock band. That's what Stephen Pedersen (frontman of Criteria) did, and he plans to make a living on the road now; quite the contrast to arguing in courtrooms all the time. Stephen Pederson has a pretty impressive musical resume. He played guitar in Cursive before moving on to law school. He also played in another band called The White Octave, which received a lot of well deserved praise. Then came the release of the first Criteria album 'En Garde' (which will be re-released by Saddle Creek this fall) on the now defunct Initial Records. Don't be fooled by the name, when Stephen recorded 'En Garde' Criteria was a one man band- he did it all- and in turn was able to produce a pretty solid record when all was said and done. So when Pedersen went to record 'When We Break' and had the opportunity to work directly with AJ Mogis (Omaha's version of Dr. Dre) and release the album on Saddle Creek, giving up law school didn't seem that bad.

'When We Break' opens up with the single 'Prevent The World' and if you aren't singing along by the end then you're definitely missing the point of Criteria. 'We aren't here to write amazing mind-blowing music, or write incredible thought-provoking lyrics like other artists on the label, we're just here to write rock anthems for people to sing along to.' Pedersen couldn't be any more correct. He's no Conor Oberst or Tim Kasher lyrically, but he has shown a tremendous amount of maturity as a songwriter compared to what he put together on 'En Garde.' The songs about heartbreak and rejection are gone, and now on the table are rock anthems that actually make you think when you hear them. That brings us to the standout track of the album 'Self Help', which happens to be a blistering anti-war song that doesn't just take cheap shots at the current administration (like it seems everyone is doing nowadays), but instead looks at the bigger picture and finds Pederson exclaiming 'Peace, love, understanding, it's as simple as it sounds if you believe' at the end of the song. Not to mention that the end of this song features 20 seconds of the best rock out material I've heard all year. 'When We Break' is a huge step up from what the band has done in the past. Loud, catchy and intricate guitar parts layer the entire album and will surely leave you ready to rock when you're done listening to it. Criteria will be touring non-stop for the next year, and their live show is rumored to bring just as much rock as their recordings. If you enjoy playing air guitar and listening to an album that will surely rock your face off be sure to check out 'When We Break'.
When We Break

When We Break

LP / CD / MP3




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When We Break

When We Break

LP / CD / MP3


Prevent the World Single

Prevent the World Single

CD / 7" / MP3


En Garde

En Garde

CD / MP3


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