Number One Gun decided to call it quits just as they were gaining momentum. They started with a devoted, though somewhat small, fan base following their 2003 Floodgate Records debut Celebrate Mistakes. With indie rock sensibility and catchy choruses to boot, the boys from Chico, CA held lots of promise, and Tooth & Nail agreed. In 2005, they signed the fledging foursome, and later that year, Promises for the Imperfect, produced by Aaron Sprinkle, was released. Their fan base grew as more people became exposed to what was less of an underground indie rock favorite, and now more of a mainstream, technically tight band. But in 2006, they decided to part ways. Vocalist and lead guitarist Jeff Schneeweis pursued a solo career, guitarist Christopher Keene and Jordan Mallory started the band Surrogate, and bassist Trevor Sellers has been spotted on tour with bands like The Rocket Summer and Emery working guitar tech.
Schneeweis started creating music under the name The North Pole Project, but, eventually, he must have been approached by his old friends in Tooth & Nail, who offered to pick him back up if he released his stuff under the guise of Number One Gun. He accepted, and we are now presented with Number One Gun's third record, The North Pole Project.
Considering that Schneeweis was the brainchild of Number One Gun, it is no surprise that things have not really changed musically. "The North Pole Project" simply sounds like the next step in the progression of the band. He gets major points for handling all of the instruments on the record himself, and maintaining that integrity. He even manages to revisit the essence of Celebrate Mistakes on a few occasions, albeit with a progressive spin.
And though this is the band's most technically tight record to date, another huge difference from "then and now" is Schneeweis' voice. Back in the Celebrate Mistakes days, he reserved the strength of his range for moments of climax, but on Promises for the Imperfect, and even more so on this new record, he lets his voice soar all throughout the songs. The change is understandable, but the argument can be made that it negatively affects the level of passion.
Number One Gun has always been known for writing encouraging songs, and The North Pole Project is no exception. From songs like "Wake Me Up" to "I'll Find You," the tone of the entire record stays positive throughout. A point worth noting, however, is the use of "hell" in an exclamatory way on "Thank you Ending." This is a trend that has begun in the industry that is somewhat unsettling. It is understandable that some do not view it as a profanity, but, come on, you have to draw the line somewhere. Impressionable kids listen to this stuff.
That complaint aside, this is a mostly enjoyable third effort in the career of Number One Gun. Purists may object to the continuing progression from indie favorite to mainstream mainstay. Still, anyone who can put together an entire record single handedly deserves some respect, and Schneeweis earns a lot of it here. It may not be their best record to date, but it's still a record you will be listening to long into this new year.- Review date: 1/12/08, written by Josh Taylor
Record Label: Tooth & Nail Records
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