Noise By Numbers latest album Over Leavitt is just another example of the brilliance of Dan Schafer (a.k.a. Dan Vapid of Screeching Weasel, The Riverdales, and The Methadones fame). Schafer is one of those artists whose material I will go out of my way to find. His post Screeching Weasel work, most notably The Methadones, puts his work propping up Ben Foster (a.k.a. Ben Weasel) to shame. I'd go so far as to say that Screeching Weasel's best work (My Brain Hurts) was great thanks to Schafer. For those who aren't convinced, I suggest giving The Riverdales' catalog a long hard listen because it will become pretty self evident that the best songs are those written and sung by Schafer.
Noise By Numbers was started when Schafer and longtime friend Jeff Dean (The Bomb, Four Star Alarm, The Story So Far) started writing songs together. Soon they were joined by Rick Uncapher (Textbook, Woolworthy) on bass and Neil Hennessy (The Lawrence Arms, Smoking Popes) on drums. The band's sound is pretty much what one would expect, excellent pop punk, but what sets Noise By Numbers apart from so many of the bands that are trying to be Schafer's former band, is they have added elements of Husker Du, The Replacements, and Naked Raygun to the mix. In a lot of ways, Over Leavitt is a far more melodic record than it is a poppy record. Those familiar with The Methadones material, especially their album This Won't Hurt, will recognize the progression in Schafer's songwriting. These songs are tight, overflowing with melody and hooks that rival any of the great power pop of years gone by. Start to finish, this is a stellar record and one of the best of 2011.