Artist: Number One Gun
Release: The North Pole Project
I’d be lying if I said I knew the particulars involving Jeff Schneeweis’s decision to launch his post – number one gun solo mission, The North Pole Project, under the alias of his once, but seemingly no longer defunct former band. After months upon months of speculation and confusion involving the band’s actual status, I’m just glad that he did. In the midst of all of 2007 (and already 2008)’s heart wrenching breakups, it was rather nice to catch a break and be able to throw a familiar name onto the “can’t wait till this shit drops” list. While I held strong to any and all reservations that Number One Gun would record their long awaited follow up to 2005’s Promises for the Imperfect (a record I still spin with a fair amount of frequency) as a one man enterprise, it took very little time for the appropriately titled “The North Pole Project” to put my apprehension to bed. Fans of old will be pleased to know that the relatively short 10-song collection shows the band back (or man) in true form, providing not only an exceptional follow-up to a past favorite, but easily one of the most rewarding listening experiences of 2008.
Although the record itself is far from overtly innovative, The North Pole’s blend of synth –tinged, acoustic ballads (The Best Of You and Me, I’ll Find You, The Different Ones, The Holiday) and hard hitting, riff driven rockers (The Massacre, Wake Me Up, Find Your Escape) provides for a balanced and relatively diverse dichotomy, especially in comparison to similar releases within the genre. And yet, while the record pleases listeners sonically, the effort’s ability to evoke sincere feelings of optimism and hope in an otherwise stripped down manner prove its finest accomplishment. Here, it would be an understatement to suggest that it is, and has always been Schneeweis’s impressive vocal delivery, and uplifting prose that made Number One Gun a formable asset to Tooth n Nail. While the short disc hurts itself by not allowing much room for filler – and well being too short - thankfully there isn’t much here to complain about.
Still, Schneeweis’s first solo effort hits its finest strides when taken as a compilation of special nuances offered both in the music, and in his vocal delivery. Though far from exhausted, the unrelenting catchiness of the vocal overlay towards the latter half of the breakdown in “Million,” Schneeweis’s slight stutter among the synth ridden verses and choruses in “The Best Of…,” or the offbeat drum offering of “Wake Me Up” all serve as perfect examples. In the end, “The North Pole Project” demonstrates that the name game amounts to very little when the man behind the music has a handle on what he wishes to convey.
Check out an in-studio acoustic version of "Bad Habits":