Tom DeLonge - To The Stars…Demos, Odds, And Ends (Album Review)

Tom DeLonge has had a pretty rough go at it from some Blink fans so far in 2015. After numerous Blink 182 album delays Mark and Travis basically put out the word that Tom was the road block preventing a new Blink album. They also said since Tom didn't want anything to do with Blink 182 that the band would be playing their shows with Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio. For a long time fans have said, no way Blink could ever go on without Mark & Tom up front, and as time went on Travis became just as integral to the band. What happened when it was announced Skiba would fill in was wild. People headed in an 180 direction. For the most part people said they felt they had noticed Tom's lack of skill, poor vocals, the bands inability to get along and finish music, the fact he "didn't seem like he wanted to be in Blink", etc... for quite a while. For the first time in the band's career, fans were starting to think maybe it would be okay if Blink and Tom parted ways.

Tom quickly rushed to announce this demo album. Originally it was hinted to be titled Songs Without A Home or teased on Twitter/Instagram as his Blink demos that he had been writing. In some ways fans took this as a sign that Tom was trying to prove to and show fans that Mark and Travis were wrong and he had in fact been working on Blink songs. Some people see it as a quick cash grab with the pre-order packages for it being quite expensive. The demo album was officially announced with the new title, To The Stars...Demos, Odds, and Ends. So it's believed that maybe a few other songs that were not meant for Blink are also on this new release. With all the intense and wild drama around Blink 182 this year I went into each song really interested to hear what Tom would put out amidst all of these really strong accusations against him and against a wavering fan base that seemed to be somewhat turning on him.  I think it's important to note the stuff above because it really sets the stage for what I was thinking about when I went into listening to this release. After all the Blink drama one could have wondered what if Tom had all these great songs for Blink and with this demo he was about to unleash them on the world and surprise listeners with some of these songs.

I went into this album expecting demos, b-sides, etc. Thinking I'd probably get a few things Tom decided not to use over the years and hopefully hear those demos that he intended to use for Blink that he probably now won't get the chance to use. I did not go into this expecting the best songs he's ever written. In the end like any demo compilation album there is a mishmash of some different sounds and also more than a few moments where lyrics or songs feel really incomplete.

"New World" starts the album and is probably the best developed song on the release. It has that Blink 182 Neighborhoods punk rock feeling. I like the way the bass sounds on the song and all in all I think this probably could have fit pretty well on a post reunion Blink album. After that song this release quickly flows into uneven and more times often than not bad territory. The closing song "Golden Showers In The Golden State" is probably one of the "songs without a home". It's very reminiscent of a Blink song from the Takeoff Your Pants and Jacket era. Musically it's not terrible. In fact it's probably my favorite song, musically, on the album. Lyrically and vocally it's not the worst Tom song you'll ever hear, but it leaves a ton to be desired. The verses and choruses feel a little underdeveloped. That being said the song is one of the shinier spots on the album and it's a song I mostly enjoy even with its pitfalls.

"Circle Jerk Pit" has a pretty neat guitar riff. It's a more hard hitting punk song that finds Tom using some aggressive vocals. It's one of the better developed songs on the album. Musically it's not too bad and vocally it comes out better than a lot of songs on here. "The Invisible Parade" has pretty decent acoustic guitar strumming and finds Tom trying his hand at more folk influences on his vocals. I think the vocal choice on this song kind of makes the song hard to listen to at times. I just don't enjoy the vocals on this song at all. "Landscapes" feels like a thrown away Angels & Airwaves song intro. Honestly the track sounds like a piece of filler. I really didn't take much, if at all, away from it or really enjoy it. It is probably my least favorite song on the release. "Animals" has this slow moving atmospheric quality to it. That's not necessarily a good thing either. The chorus on the song vocally and musically are a little hard to listen to overall. It sounds jumbled and there are some noises that are really unappealing. The verse parts work better for the song but it still doesn't do much for me. It comes off a little too meandering and the song overall just doesn't seem very well constructed even for a demo.

I went into this expecting a mishmash of things. That's pretty much what I got. I would be lying if I said I came out of the listening experience satisfied with this release. Most of the songs on here definitely seem like demos. The bad thing is they are probably demos that should have stayed locked in the vault and not publicly released. The pitfalls lyrically, vocally, and some of the songwriting feel a little too underdeveloped. It makes this one hard to enjoy much if at all. There isn't much flow due to the different styles being tackled. I think out of the eight songs included I come out mildly enjoying 2 or 3 and the rest just didn't do much for me. I would definitely recommend checking out "Golden Showers In The Golden State". I think even with it not being the best developed song of the batch it's one of the only songs I'd return to in the future. I really like it musically. It's a good closer. I think it comes the closest to giving me what I wanted from this release. I think this is a must check out due to all the things around Blink 182 and Tom this year. It is at least interesting to hear some of Tom's songs raw and see maybe behind the curtain of his creative process. If you're looking for all Blink demos on this you just aren't going to get it. You get maybe one or two that feel like Blink demos. Those songs at least made for an interesting listen even if I came out enjoying this a whole lot less than how much I hoped I would. I know this is a demo album so you're getting you know "demos", but there was a pretty hefty price tag on some of these pre-order packages. With that in mind you have to expect something more than what I think this release has to offer.

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