The Menzingers Get Over The Sophomore Hump in Grand Fashion

'Chamberlain Waits' sounds like a band comfortable with a unique sound.

The Menzingers

Chamberlain Waits

Released on Apr 13, 2010


Scranton, Penn., may be best known as the birthplace of Vice President Joe Biden and as the Dunder-Mifflin setting of NBC’s The Office. But if The Menzingers keep putting out albums as good as Chamberlain Waits, they may be on track to take…well…a distant third. Biden and The Office are pretty big names to topple, but The Menzingers are doing some pretty great things. 

After the band’s full-length debut, A Lesson in the Abuse of Information Technology, the band caught the interest of Chicago/San Francisco label Red Scare Industries, which released their sophomore effort,Chamberlain Waits, in April. Despite the band garnering early comparisons to the likes of Against Me! and Operation Ivy, and definitely winning over that crowd, as the band evolves it’s easier to see the likes of The Clash, Billy Bragg and Saves the Day in their sound. 

But the influence that comes across most on Chamberlain Waits is that of Franz Nicolay (The Hold Steady), on his solo debut Major GeneralChamberlain Waits comes at the listener fully confident, even with its offbeat melodies and strange but addicting sense of pacing. It is still overwhelmingly a folk-punk effort, but it’s a hell of a lot better produced by Matt Allison at Atlas in Chicago than the band’s prior release. What that equates to in this case is not a big money sound, but a clarity that makes the drive of The Menzingers all the more clear. 

From the rolling opening guitars of “Who’s Your Partner,” to the clear picking of “I Was Born,” The Menzingers sound like they’re at home with their sound from start to finish. What’s truly impressive about Chamberlain Waits, though, are the vocal performances of Tom May and Greg Barnett. Compare them to the duos of Brendan Kelly and Chris McCaughan of The Lawrence Arms, or Joe Strummer and Mick Jones of The Clash. The Menzingers showed a penchant for harmonies on Information Technology, but they’re perfecting it with Chamberlain Waits. “Home Outgrown” and “Deep Sleep” are just two great examples (out of the 12 for 12 on the effort) of the fantastic vocal work they’re doing, from clarity, to gruff angst, to full-on screams. 

But what it boils down to with Chamberlain Waits is confidence. It’s easy to tell which bands have it, and all the more painful to realize the ones that don’t. Chamberlain Waits shows a band totally at ease with their sound, and it is produced as well as any album can be. It feels like standing in the crowd at a Menzingers show, watching these dudes pour their hearts into the performance on stage. One listen to Chamberlain Waits and its evident what The Menzingers have – 12 great songs, written by a band that knows they’re great, paced damn near perfectly to be listened to as an album – and despite all of the comparisons ringing true, The Menzingers have a sound that is completely theirs. This is the album that, between reviews, isn’t leaving the CD drive/coming off iPod repeat for the entire summer. 

By: Bill Jones

High Point

Cut #6, “Male Call,” slows things down, for a much needed change of pace for the album, getting down to honest folk-punk. Then it’s back to kicking ass.

Low Point

The opening lyrics of the album, juxtaposing being “born on a light-skinned road” with now living “on a dark-skinned road” never seem to hit just right, drawing a little too much attention to themselves, a little too much of a device to go unnoticed.

Posted by Wes Soltis on Aug 04, 2010 @ 8:20 pm

chamberlain waits, the menzingers