with lines such as ‘cast your stones cast your judgment, you don’t make me who I am’, ‘you have a choice, be your own person and your own voice’, and ‘this is the last time you’ll ever burden me’.
The next track ‘I’m Already Gone’ slows things down a bit, almost an acoustic track. The harmony between McKinnon and guitarist Kevin Skaff (former lead singer of Victory band Four Letter Lie) on this track is beautiful. Even with the mellowness of the song, it’s still strong lyrically, telling you that you can’t focus on what’s behind you, you can’t live your life in yesterday, you have to push forward.
Track seven, simply titled ‘Violence (Enough is Enough)’ was the first single released from Common Courtesy. On ‘Violence’ it seems as though A Day to Remember went back to the sound that made them stand out from the rest, the contrast of soft bridges, and heavy choruses and verses, both voiced by McKinnon, with back up screams from Skaff. It’s a very in your face song and will get you pumped for almost anything. It seems to be a song geared towards ‘haters’ and everyone knows haters talk a big talk, McKinnon decides to call them out with the grinding line ‘what’s the world gonna say when I call your bluff, punk!’ a favorite line of many ADTR fans. With it being the first song released, some fans were disappointed in the rest of the album, expecting it to be as heavy as ‘Violence’, however the contrast with heavy and soft melodies, and being able to pull it off isn’t something many bands can accomplish.
‘Life @ 11’ brings out more of the bands ‘pop-punk’ side, with a catchy drum beat right from the start, and the need to dance slightly increases at McKinnon’s singing of ‘sh-sh-sh-shake it off’. Though if you listen to the lyrics it’s not the happiest of songs, much like how Third Eye Blind did with ‘Semi-Charmed Life’ back in the 90’s. ‘Life @ 11’ appears to be another indirect
stab at Victory with ‘hey you, you’re gonna be a star. As long as you let us we’ll make you the person that you aren’t’. And again the theme of doubt, this time brought on by internal voices, as they build and build until eventually McKinnon yells for them to stop.
‘I Surrender’ is another, slower, almost acoustic style song in the CD, with the harmonies of McKinnon and Skaff once again being heard, with a piano and what we assume to be McKinnon’s pug, Zenk barking at the close of the track. Seemingly, this is a relationship-esqe song, but again there are hints of the soreness between the band and Victory. The ambiguity between the law suit and a relationship of some of the songs on the album was, more than likely intentional as the fan base is majorly 13-17 and wouldn’t want to hear about a legal battle.
The heaviest song on the album ‘Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way’ is almost reminiscent of ‘Heartless’. With heavy chords and riffs, and drummer Alex Shelnutt going crazy on drums, and an almost ominous intro with McKinnon’s signature growl, it’ll get you up and going. The song itself also caused some controversy, as someone pointed out it was directed towards Hunter Moore. If you don’t know who that is he’s the one behind ‘revenge porn’. In retaliation, Moore posted what he would do to the band’s girlfriends, which will be spared, if you really want to know look on his twitter.
Following the heaviest song on the album is the slowest, and probably the most heat wrenching and tear jerking song on the album ‘End of Me’. The emotion that was put in to this song shines through each and every time it’s heard, from the low, gentle words throughout; McKinnon makes you really feel the pain. The worst (or best) comes in the middle of the song with the heart breaking scream of ‘I get it, no, I get it gave more than I took back, oh well (so
back away!) I get it, no, I get it can’t help those who don’t wanna be helped’ and the same screaming tone ‘you’ll be the end of me!’ at the end of the song.
And the tempo picks back up with song twelve ‘The Document Speaks for Itself’ which is a very direct stab at Victory Records and more specifically Tony Brumell. In the first version of the song, the featured a voice mail from Brumell threatening to sue, which was taken out before official release. The entire song is just calling Brumell out, indirectly of course even though everyone knows who it’s about. And again, near the end of the song is when everyone comes together in the line ‘my friends still stand behind me. We stuck together through all we lost. Even when your worst surrounds me, you’ll never get the best of us!’ And thankfully Victory didn’t get the best of them, which is why we have this album in our hands right now.
The final song on the regular version ‘I Remember’ is another song reminiscent on the past; where they have been, seeing places for the first time, riding around in their old van, having family turn their backs, the album comes full circle with this song being the ‘end’. After the song is over, there is conversation between the guys talking about what they remember, their fondest memories, such as the first time they saw snow, or when they saw Ground Zero in New York. There are three bonus tracks on the deluxe edition of the album: ‘Leave all the Lights On’, ‘Good Things’, and ‘Same Book but Never the Same Page’. All three are a little more towards the ‘pop-punk’ side of A Day to Remember, but wonderful songs nonetheless. Again there is an air of ambiguity in these songs which leave them open to interpretation as to what they’re about-relationships, or the lawsuit. I haven’t given the bonus tracks enough of a listen to give a fair critique, but as far as I can tell they’re just as good as the meat of the album. If it isn’t obvious, A Day to Remember have come a long way from when they first started, musically and mentally and that shows through in their music. As they change and mature so will their sound, which shows with Common Courtesy. Not only that, but they worked extremely hard for this album, they did everything themselves, with Victory doing everything within their power, but not even that could hold the guys down. They even put on the biggest tour of their lives AND gave us a hilarious web series, they didn’t have to do any of that, and to this day I am still so amazed by that!