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Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF

Cincinnati, Ohio, United States | SELF
Band Alternative Pop


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"AbsolutePunk.net review"

Ellison - Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone
Release Date: 8/22/06
Record Label: Carbon Copy Media

For the more discerning music listeners in this musical circle of ours, the name "JT Woodruff" does not exactly carry with it the most positive of connotations. As the lead singer of one of independent rock's most generic (but successful) bands in Hawthorne Heights, Woodruff is no stranger to what it takes to succeed in the music business, but to many that approach comes across as an overly-conservative reliance on formula that has done little for the progression of the scene. Thus, when I got my copy of Ellison's Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone, and Woodruff's name was plastered there in massive letters on the cellophane's sticker, I had my fair share of reservations. One could only imagine what Woodruff's first signing under his Carbon Copy Media label would be. Without having ever heard a song on the disc itself, I had Ellison pegged as Hawthorne Heights Jr. - a protégé in the most literal sense.

It is safe to say that it took no more than 30 seconds of Ellison's emo-pop goodness to realize how far off-center my preconceptions were. Ellison could not be a further departure from the sound of Hawthorne Heights, but instead come across as being more aligned with Copeland or Daphne Loves Derby. That is not to say that Ellison is a direct ripoff of either band, however. The boys here take an approach that could be best described as an elaboration on Beneath Medicine Tree's rock tracks. If you were going to construct an entire album off the premise of songs like "Walking Downtown" and "She Changes Your Mind," the result would very much resemble Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone. And by and large, that is a plus.

Sonically, Ellison takes a few basic ideas and sticks to what they know and do best. And perhaps, therein lies both the most positive and negative aspects of the album in question. On the plus side, everything on Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone sounds - well, extremely lovely. The guys know their strengths, and they do no deviate too far from the trail of breadcrumbs. Guitar lines are subtle and simple, in such a way that Ellison would never be truly considered a guitar-driven rock band. However, this is not necessarily a cause for unrest, as they still serve as a pleasant undercurrent to the record's main vocal focus. When on his own, Josh Hill croons with the best of his scene brethren, tying up the breathy, ethereal outline of Ben Gibbard, but with any hint of shoegaze replaced by the full-belly confidence of This Day and Age's Jeff Martin. The group really shines, though, when the band's unassuming instrumentation is privy to serve as backdrop for their decadent vocal harmonies. Slick and textured, but never sounding fake, Ellison is at its best when they hit their choruses, as seen on such beauties as "Joanna, Open Your Eyes" and the bouncy "Holiday Drive-In."

In a lyrical sense, Ellison is certainly not blazing any new trails. Their wide-eyed innocence in writing and singing about young love and other such emo mainstays is refreshingly honest and endearingly personal in a way, but by the record's mid-point, it kind of starts to run together. And really, the same can be said about the group's sound, as song structures repeat themselves and walk the line in the safe, mid-tempo purgatory that is kind of a musical no-man's-land. The tunes are too rocky to be fragile, and too soft-edged to be truly driving. While this creates a strong sense of identity for Ellison as a whole, the lack of differentiation might bore anyone but the most sensitive rockers. In essence, it would be beneficial to Ellison to embrace its atypical cuts on their next effort. For anthemics, it does not get much better than the bittersweet yearning of "Leaving Tomorrow" with its jumpy riff and furry synth tones. Likewise, for a project that started out as an acoustic experiment, Ellison seems to almost shun those humble roots. The one exception to this, of course, is the sparse, minimalist "Short Love," whose acoustic strums pair with Hill's falsetto as good as any Pinot and top-notch steak. These steps outside the bounds of what might be considered "cookie-cutter" or "playing it safe" are quite promising indicators of what we could expect from a more diverse Ellison, and if embraced, could make for a truly excellent follow-up. In the meantime, enjoy this emotive morsel of well-executed indie-pop - it is most definitely worth a look.

Recommended if you like: Copeland, Daphne Loves Derby, This Day and Age, Rookie of the Year, Jimmy Eat World - AbsolutePunk.net



ALBUM: Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone (Carbon Copy Media; www.carboncopymedia.com)

WHO? Cincinnati emo-rock quartet who've hooked up with Carbon Copy Media, Hawthorne Heights frontman JT Woodruff's new label.

SOUNDS LIKE: Jangly, emotive pop that is tailor-made for mix CD's for the one you love (or at least crush on)-especially if her name's Joanna.

HOW IS IT? It's hard to hate on music this heartfelt and sincere, so we won't even try. If you dig the bands below, Ellison are your new favorite band.


"All Ages Zine Review"

So JT Woodruff from Hawthorne Heights has started his own label. My first thought is oh great, a bunch of bands that will sound just like everyone else and then I hit play on Ellison's debut record and every thought I originally had about this label went out the window. Right from the start I was drawn into this album. This is a lot like today's bands (June, Bayside, etc…) but somehow because of the rawness of this it stands on it's own two feet. This is a great debut without any screaming littering the vocals, just clean, crisp, vocals that cut right to the point. This is simple three-chord rock music without much more to it and that's just the way I like my music. Simple pop with a twist of rock and this is a welcome addition to my collection. If you put this on and don't find yourself bouncing along and by the second or third track shouting the lyrics, then you my friend have no idea what good music should sound like. - All Ages Zine

"Amplifier Magazine Review"

Cincinnati quartet Ellison made a big statement with their 2004 homemade EP, Indecisive and Halfhearted, as they grafted gorgeous pop elements to a heartfelt emo foundation and created a powerful, melodic hybrid in the process. The buzz surrounding that release scored Ellison a handful of plum opening gigs, including Cartel, From First to Last and Hawthorne Heights, whose JT Woodruff signed the foursome to his newly established Carbon Copy imprint for Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone, their debut full length. Say Goodnight is Ellison’s next logical step, an album’s worth of ringing guitars, anthemic melodicism and heartpunch intensity in the service of songs that are smartly written and executed. With the emo power of Sunny Day Real Estate, the pop sensibility of Jimmy Eat World and the edgy subtlety of Copeland, Ellison peels off adrenalized fist pumpers (“Joanna, Open Your Eyes,” “Your Goodbyes”) and heartfelt balladry (“Tired of Pretending,” “Give In”) with equal passion and harmonic precision. Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone would be an impressive achievement for a band with three times Ellison’s experience and longevity, and this is where they are after a single basement tape. Stay tuned for even more amazement. - Amplifier Magazine

"Emotional Punk Review"

The revilement of Hawthorne Heights frontman JT Woodruff has been so in vogue as of late. However, I look to avoid it, lest I offend anyone in the slightest. From my perspective, he's got at least a modicum of considerably good taste. He's found himself a new project in Carbon Copy Media, which, to say the least, hasn't hesitated to delve deep in to the softcore punk talent pool. In its path, the label has managed to grab hold of newcomers Brighten, the recently departed Ivory (the object of my recent laments), and more.

While it's no question that Ellison has a hard time differentiating themselves from the rest of the label's roster, this certainly doesn't detract from the fact that the album, in itself, is altogether reasonably enjoyable.
Though most of the album's 11 tracks have some kind of trite, teenage-anthem tendency about them, Ellison is nonetheless able to muster up a convivial collection of songs.

The disc leads with a slew of generally prosaic songs with recycled melodies. Collectively, the tracks seem to lack the indelibity that is usually conventional, and necessary, for an album's anchor tracks. Up until the title track, "Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone", I had the band labeled as a sub-par pop/rock project that might not make it past their debut. My apathy waned slightly after stumbling upon the back tracks. In fact, I've fallen in love, for reasons unbeknownst to myself with "Give In", which is sandwiched between the substance and the commonplace. The band really makes out best with their mid-tempo, sentiment saturated songs like "Love Takes And Breaks" and "Tired of Pretending".

As far as I'm concerned, Ellison could easily drop off my radar if things don't pick up for them sometime soon. They would certainly benefit from a few more years of development and maturation, but for now they'll serve well as your charming little pick-me-up pop band. - EmotionalPunk.com

"Up Beet Music Review"

J.T. Woodruff, lead singer of Hawthorne Heights, made a great choice when he chose Ellison to be the first band he signed to the newly created Carbon Copy Media. The four-piece indie rock band released its first label-backed album Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone in August 2006, and it shows quite some promise.
Taking on sounds similar to Jimmy Eat World, Cartel, Copeland, and even Sleepaway, the group seems to have found its comfort in making catchy and quality music. The opening song of the album, "Joanna, Open Your Eyes," sets the tone for the 10 songs to follow. Starting off with a solo intro by drummer Mitch Wyatt, lead vocalist and guitarist Josh Hill brings out his vocals and carries a soothing tone throughout the song and the rest of the album by keeping a whispering aspect as he sings, even when he reaches for the high notes. Although the rhythm guitar seems to be very basic, lead guitarist Ian Bolender adds some depth to the song by playing simple riffs in the background.
Ellison definitely knows how to combine all of their instruments to make what I'd like to call a lovely sound. The one thing that I kept seeing come back up throughout the album was the use of the backup vocals during choruses to add an additional instrument. Bolender hums and echoes Hill in almost all the songs to make sure there aren't ever any breaks in the song so that the music can flow continually.
"Following You," which appears at track 2, shows the band's skills at creating catchy guitar melodies. A few hours after listening to the song, I found myself humming the guitar riffs during the chorus. After listening to the whole album, I noticed that Ellison had found out what they were good at and they didn't stray away from it. They had basic guitar progressions, simple but catchy riffs, and soothing vocals. The only down side to this is that there wasn't that much variation throughout the album. It just seemed to be the same sound over and over again (even though it was a good sound).
Immediately following two up-tempo songs, Ellison moves into a slow jam called "Holiday Drive-In" that incorporates Hill's lyrics on young love and personal experience. The band could be grouped in the well-known emo genre because of its personalized lyrics, but I think the group's mature sound makes sure that doesn't happen. A slower song that includes one of the most soothing guitar riffs running throughout the entire song is found later in the album.
Pretty much, this is how I'm going to sum up the album. Ellison made a great first appearance with a record label, and I'm sure Woodruff is quite happy with his choice of signing the band as his first. Great usage of backup vocals helped a lot of the group's songs to sound smooth, and simple guitar riffs repeated in the background got songs stuck in my head. The album started getting a little bit repetitive by the 8th song on the 11-song album, but I think with Hill's acoustic song "Short Love" at track 11, Ellison leaves on a good note. The song had incredible lyrics and an unforgettable chorus that made me forget about the rest of the album. I think they knew what they were doing when they put "Short Love" last on the album.
I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more from this young band out of Cincinnati… yeah, definitely. - UpBeetMusic.com

"Paste Punk Review"

When HAWTHORNE HEIGHTS vocalist JT Woodruff announced the formation of his own record label at the beginning of the year there was most likely a lot of speculation from the band's questioners and excitement from the band's fans. From the former point of view, one would commonly expect the singer of this popular screamo act to sign similar bands to his own label resulting in an even greater percentage of over-saturation. On the other hand, fans of HAWTHORNE could anxiously anticipate the chance to hear some of the singer's favorite bands no matter what they sounded like. No surprise at all. What has been a surprise, however, is that the first two releases from Carbon Copy Media, his ironically named label, aren't all that bad. At question today is the debut release from Cincinnati pop-rockers ELLISON titled Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone.

Anything official that you read about ELLISON will probably include the "for fans of" label and list bands like CARTEL and COPELAND. For what may be the first time ever, a "for fans of" affiliated with Victory (as Carbon Copy is distributed by the powerhouse) is actually right. Indeed, ELLISON does play poppy rock in the vein of CARTEL, COPELAND, and numerous other bands. The first song on their record is called "Joanna, Open Your Eyes" with others going by the names of "Love Takes And Breaks," "Tired Of Pretending," and "Short Love." As evident, ELLISON doesn't do much to hide what a majority of their lyrical content covers. The same goes for their music: simple, to-the-point, and easy on the ears. Much of the album tends to play-out without any distinct highlights although they do include not one, but two common acoustic songs at the very end. I think it'd be fair to say that this ELLISON release is quite solid for the genre while doing nothing in terms of limiting over-saturation. Chances are ELLISON will never make a substantial mark in the music world, but props to Woodruff for finding a group of individuals that can pull-off their genre decently. - Pastepunk.com

"Rebel Noise Review"

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio Ellison brings forth "Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone". This album is something that makes you think any second now its going to just burst into your average emo band take a step downhill. But that isn’t true. With constant low tone vocals and emotional lyrics, Ellison has kept away from the mainstream all together.

Fans of Cartel and Jimmy Eat World have been knocking over old woman to get their teeth into Ellison’s new album and I can see why. Being a hardcore fan and wanting more of a ball-drop vocal in this album, I still really think this album is great. I do however, feel the vocals could be a bit more overpowering at times but that's probably the only downside of the album.

Check them out at www.myspace.com/ellison and get a taste of what the online craze is about. - Rebel Noise

"Shake Fire.com Review"

Many people have been wondering what kind of bands would be signed to Hawthorne Heights singer J.T. Woodruff's Carbon Copy Media label. As the primary inductee, Ellison’s sound suggests that J.T. is out to promote quality musicians, even if that means picking them from stylistically different fields from his own. Ellison, who are Josh Hill, Ian Bolender, JD Carlson, and Mitch Wyatt, could be seen as a refined combination of Copeland and Jimmy Eat World with character enough to separate them from those other acts.

Ellison has a sound that will likely place them in the pop rock spotlight because they supply a little more than just a ride the wave of easy beats and catchy melodies. The lyrics have enough depth to make you listen to them without passing beyond their means and becoming trite or obnoxious. The hooks are catchy, the catches are…hooky…and ultimately they pull of a good sound and score a victory for their label.

RATING: 3.11 (out of 4.00) - Shakefire.com

"For The Sound Review"

A heart shaped box of chocolates. A dozen red roses. John Cusack holding a boom box over his head in “Say Anything”. There were just some things that are doomed to always be associated with love. They were romantic. They made countless girls weak in the knees. Now, they’re kind of cheesy. Sure, they still send the same message. We just expect it now. The chocolate will go bad, the roses will die, and the tape of "Say Anything" will be eaten by the VCR. That’s how I felt listening to Ellison’s Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone. The songs are generally sweet (bordering on corny), and the harmonies sound full. Ellison reminds me of a faster paced Copeland and a softer-spoken Cartel. None of this is bad. Especially for a debut CD – it still sounds new. But what about years from now? After a couple of albums? I don’t know how long it's going to hold up.

Songs like “Joanna Open Your Eyes” and “Holiday Drive In” set the tone for most of the album. They’re light with poppy choruses and lush harmonies. The harmonies are easily the best thing throughout Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone. They come in at good places, they don’t overpower the song, and they feel completely natural for Ellison. Because of this, most of the songs sound thoughtful and pretty.

Then there’s “Give In” and “Leaving Tomorrow”. Both just sound awkward and out of place on Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone. “Give In” is simply boring. That's honestly the only way to describe it. “Leaving Tomorrow” is the opposite - where "Giving In" feels like it's constantly missing something, "Leaving Tomorrow" has too many different things squished into it. Mostly, it's a combination of 80's songs gone bad and cheesy radio pop. And, seriously. Let’s just make it known right now that nine times out of ten, stuttering in a song is just annoying.

Luckily, right after Ellison slapped me with “Leaving Tomorrow”, they redeemed themselves with “Tired Of Pretending” and “Short Love”. “Tired Of Pretending” pulls the big harmonies back into play, and is just a very simple pretty song. The opening verse of “Short Love” made me wince a little – it seemed arrogant, which is definitely something that I hadn’t heard from Ellison before. After that, it’s all uphill. The song is light and cute, and the chorus is downright beautiful. Of the whole album, it shows off front man Josh Hill's voice the best.

Those symbols of love that we’ve all gotten so accustomed to don’t feel anywhere near as heartfelt as they used to. And, chances are, they aren’t going to gain back any of that momentum. We’ve seen the movies. We’ve read the books. We’ve heard the songs. While Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone isn’t going to change that, it serves as a nice reminder of why we found all of that stuff so sweet in the first place. - ForTheSound.com


Color Of Compassion
July 1st 2008

Punk The Clock Vol.3, Property Of A Gentleman
September 25, 2007

Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone
Carbon Copy Media
August 2006

Indecisive and Halfhearted EP
Independent Release
July 2005



The sound of Ellison has been described as having some of the trademarks of “Emo,” but with a more graceful, grown-up edge. With great honor, the band has been compared to the likes of Jimmy Eat World, Copeland, and Cartel. Ellison’s energetic blend of indie pop with straightforward rock is sure to deliver a powerful emotional punch to the indie pop scene. Their debut full length CD Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone hit stores in August 2006 thanks to the faith and hard work of Carbon Copy Media, the record label started by J.T. Woodruff, lead singer of Hawthorne Heights.

Ellison went the do-it-yourself route with Say Goodnight, Sleep Alone by recording everything in singer Josh Hill’s basement. One of Woodruff’s many reasons for signing the guys was that they could do everything themselves, and extremely professionally at that. Woodruff says, “I signed Ellison because of their songs. It’s plain and simple: they write good music and I feel that people need to hear it!”

On September 25th, 2007 a brand new song by Ellison called “Let Your Guard Down” mixed by famed producer David Bendeth was released on the Punk The Clock Vol. 3 compilation alongside Jack’s Mannequin, The Almost, The Starting Line and more. Ellison has a whole new arsenal of songs to compile for their sophomore record (on a yet to be determined label). Until that record comes out Ellison will continue to tour the country and share their passion for music with newfound fans.