Marked Melody

April 5, 2009

Ace Enders & A Million Different People – When I Hit the Ground

Filed under: Pop rock — Alisa Hathaway @ 8:48 pm


Hello music enthusiasts.

This next review has a very personal inclination for me. As a longtime fan of the now-defunct band The Early November, I’ve been waiting and anticipating Ace Enders first full-length solo release for quite some time. So expect this review to be a bit more analytical and critical than the others. You can also expect it to be much more comprehensive!

First, some background. The Hammonton, New Jersey native began making music with The Early November about a decade ago, signed to Drive-Thru Records, the force behind bands like New Found Glory and The Starting Line. The band released two EPs, one beloved record, and a ground-breaking triple album, The Mother, the Mechanic, and the Path before call it quits in 2007. Fans flocked to their live shows, especially in the Philadelphia area.  They even hosted the release party for their triple disc in good old Filthadelphia, allowing fans to purchase the three, complete, rock/pop/conceptual albums for just $1.

If you haven’t caught on to my devotion yet, you should probably worry about your reading comprehension.

After TEN’s run, Ace got back on the horse almost immediately. He had already released a successful side project with former drummer, Jeff Kummer, titled I Can Make a Mess Like Nobody’s Business. Once he struck out on his own, he began touring with new songs, without officially releasing any work. Fans scoured Myspace, iTunes, and any other internet niche where Ace could post new music to soothe their savage beastitude. In between tours with bands such as Angels and Airwaves (thank God blink-182 is around again…) he released an EP free on the internet, Secret Wars.

And finally, here we are at When I Hit the Ground, a reality to us fans after over a year of pushbacks and internet teases. I have so much to say.

First, it is unequivocally Arthur Carl Enders. The musicality, earnestness, and straight-up rock sensibility drag me back to The Room’s Too Cold… days. I was pleasantly surprised by the wealth of even more new material – only two of the tracks were previously released on the internet EP, though fans could listen to songs like “S.O.S.” and “Emergency” on the internet for free since The Early November died. The look of the CD itself is also charming for the longtime fan – the case and booklet are covered with photos of Ace’s friends and family during tours. The entire album has the look and feel of a scrapbook of the last five years.

Personal favorite tracks include the title song “When I Hit the Ground,” the rock single “Reaction,” and the emotional ballad, “Emergency.” Enders has always had the uncanny ability to isolate one very small feeling or thought and embody it with a melody, a perfect line, or a cacophony of sounds. Much of the music feels like interpretive theatre.

That being said, even on my fourth or fifth critical listen, I’m hitting roadblocks. This record is much more polished than, for instance, I Can Make a Mess… The songs feel cohesive and lack the background noise and long moments of pause that endeared me to some of his previous work. It is harder for single tracks to stand out, and the feelings behind the songs communicate less. Sure, they’re more universal, but in how many other songs have we heard lines like “Everyone around me looks the same.” or listened to an introspective argument with a mirror.  Still, simple lines like “I’ve been a ghost for the past eight years of my life” give me chills.

My other gripe with – we’ll refer to it here as – “polished rock” is the track “Bring Back Love.” This is heavily tinted with my own bias, but I’ve heard the song performed several times, mostly acoustic. Secret Wars features the track with simple, sincere, piano and guitar. There is something so basic and beautiful about it, that the overly emotive peace-and-love message doesn’t come off as cheesy.  When I Hit the Ground includes a revamped version of the song with full band and drum backbeat. They turned it into a rock song. They included a crowd chanting the message at the end of the song, something that happens often at the live shows but becomes a little creepy Kirk Franklin-gospel on a recorded CD. Let’s consider this track a little epic fail blip in a long, unique career. Kind of like The Phantom Menace.

For those unfamiliar with Ace, the Early November, or any of the last 700 words, I have two thoughts. First, why in the world have you read this far into the review? Second, if you’re a fan of All-American Rejects, Jimmy Eat World, or Dashboard Confessional (though it pains me to make the comparison), When I Hit the Ground is for you.

If you’re still interested, check out

Also the official site

You also reserve the right to not believe anything I say, knowing I am a rabid fan. Here are a few other reviews out there worth reading:

Listen and read up. There’ll be a quiz next week.


1 Comment »

  1. alisa, i love your page, you’re reviews and suggestions are spot on! 🙂 and you’re pretty. the end.

    Comment by Corkie — April 14, 2009 @ 4:41 pm

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