The Upside tells “Stories”

Plenty of bands say their albums can’t live up to their emotional and energetic live shows.

The Upside can’t say that. “Stories,” The Upside’s new album, is just like seeing the band perform live. No matter what merry band of musicians The Upside’s Michael Niblett brings to the shows, what stands out is Niblett’s passion and emotion he brings to each tune. He captured that same intimate spirit on “Stories,” a collection of 10 songs that fans may recognize from his live gigs.

The sunny, sweet love song “Twice on Sunday” is a stand-out track. It’s a song that, with a full band on background, could easily be a huge hit.

Niblett isn’t afraid to get personal, too. “Step” feels like a moody, heavy song, full of emotion and intimacy. It’s one of the best tracks on the album.

Niblett blends activism and music on a few tracks, like “It’s Time” and “John’s Song.” He wears his heart on his sleeve for these super-passionate tracks, and they’re definitely worth a listen.

The sole downside to the album is that the songs can blend together if you’re not paying attention (and that’s the listener’s loss). But, an upside (no pun intended) to that is that Niblett knows exactly what he sounds like. He never puts on airs and tries for a sound that just isn’t him.

If you’ve seen The Upside live and like what you hear, you’re sure to like “Stories.” If you’re a fan of folks like Damien Rice, Bob Dylan and Glen Hansard, you’ll dig “Stories.” Check out the band’s music and upcoming show dates at The Upside’s MySpace page.