The latest offering from the Ataris – “So Long, Astoria” – is full of melodic and fast-paced indie rock. This CD – their first major label release – combines elements of their first two albums and shows their maturity and versatility. The Ataris deal with emotionally heavy subject matter, using poignant lyrics and moving music.

The Ataris’ unique sound is a result of combining indie rock with powerful and deeply personal lyrics. Although some of the tracks may seem like they belong on an emo record, the Ataris maintain that there is always a little hope no matter what happens.

By presenting their own stories and memories, the group seeks to provide a more intense effect for the listener. This approach comes from frontman Kris Roe’s desire to take a no-nonsense look at his own experiences and share them through song.

This idea is elucidated in the title track, in which Roe puts forth the idea that “life is only as good as the memories we make.” The disc explores the full spectrum of emotions, from the upbeat “Summer ’79” to the appropriately titled “The Saddest Song,” a vocal apology to Roe’s daughter.

Although some of the lyrics read as if they were written by Dashboard Confessional, the rock element makes the content easier to digest. The heightened energy of “So Long, Astoria” is refreshing compared to the slow pace of their last release, “End is Forever.”

One of the most enjoyable tracks on this record is “The Boys of Summer,” a cover of a Don Henley song that most people who grew up in the ’80s will recognize. “Radio #2” is a shot to the radio industry, whom the band accuses of “preaching lies in 4/4 time.”

The most powerful offering is easily “My Reply,” a response to a letter the band received from a young fan confined to a hospital. Also included are two extra tracks, including a rerelease of “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone” and an acoustic version of “The Saddest Song.”

Although “So Long, Astoria” takes on heavy issues, the spirit of the music is charged and paradoxically uplifting. If you are looking for a CD that isn’t afraid to tackle these subjects without using a depressing musical backbone, or just want some good indie, this album is for you.

“So Long, Astoria” is available now from Columbia Records. For more information about the band, visit their website at

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