Today, I bring to you a band that wears its heart on its sleeve….
Today I bring to you a band that wears its heart on its sleeve. A band that has an emotional connection to each word written their songs. When I first met these guys, it was a show they shared with us and had no idea what to expect. I remember asking them what kind of music they played and their response was “Sad Pop-Punk.” This garnered confusion but at the same time really piqued my interest. After a few words swapped it came time for them to take the stage. I was close to the front when Johnny Stevens said to the crowd,
“We are Undergrads.”
I’ve seen these guys a hand few of times and it’s always been one hell of a show. Despite the label given by the band of negative pop-punk or sad pop-punk, these guys have a very demanding presence when they take the stage. The music has many elements from pop-punk but the message the band gives is quite different than your average band in the pop-punk genre. I will admit that pop-punk is not my area of expertise but I will say that most local and national acts in that genre that I’ve experienced have an upbeat vibe and message. Here’s an example from the track “Recovery”.
“This was never important
I’m just intoxicated
Feeling all but Degraded
No thanks to you
You’re the habit I can’t drop
The writing on the walls that I have spent my life destroying.”
This song is by far my favorite track. Yes, the words sad and negative can be daunting but there’s a purpose to this kind of writing that hopes to tug on your heart strings to feel what not only was a personal experience for its author but for so many in a similar circumstance. That’s why we listen to Love-sick Radio, is it not? This band writes from the heart and personal experience that is very much authentic in its delivery. The lyrics and melody emotionally sway you and get you invested into the story they tell. This story is one I can confidently say that most of you can relate to in one way or another. Without going to deep into the lyrics, the song it’s self is very dynamic. The song gets heavier and more engaged as the story progresses and the subject comes to realization that he/she is in recovery and being in a toxic relationship is not the path he/she wants to follow anymore. The song picks up the pace and attitude with a new reflective perspective with the music following in-step.
“Silvertoes!” Every time I see or hear the name of this track I think of Danny Phillips (guitarist) screaming it before they open the song. Their fans hear this and go mad and it’s always an awesome experience seeing these guys smirk when they get that kind of love. I know personally that it’s an amazing feeling having fans sing along or even getting hyped and reflecting the energy you’re putting out. It’s always amazing knowing that you’re impacting someone on a personal level. The great thing about this song is how dynamic it is. They do a great job of hitting hard on the verse then transitioning into a catchy chorus with an upbeat groove that keeps the energy going.
The second track is called “Friends”. If there was ever a song that I felt absolutely most could relate to, this track is it. Don’t believe me? Listen to the words of this track and if you can say that you can’t relate, then you’re luckier than most. Keep doing what you’re doing. This song is backed by a very catchy chorus and does a great job of showing off the vocal ability of band. This song really embodies the notion of what Negative Pop-Punk entails.
Going back to my original statement that this band wears its heart on its sleeve was my brought on by “She Said Give Up”. I know I reference their live performance a lot but I will confidently say these guys sound just as good live as they do on their EP which is not an easy task by any means. This song has a killer melody to launch the track which kicks right into their own variant of Pop-Punk riffing and the opening lines that hit home.
“I’ve been drinking everyday
Trying hard not to complain
But it’s hard in Ohio
When it rains every single day”.
That is a killer way to lyrically open a song in my opinion. This song has a lot of very well written and thought out lyrical content. One of my favorites is “Poe wrote every single day and still died pouring out his soul”. One thing I can truly appreciate about these guys is that their instrumental output is matched lyrically. You can tell that each song has been divisive in its delivery with the music, doing an amazing job at reflecting the emotion of the lyrics. I’d also like to point out a part that I appreciate as a musician. At two minutes into the song, they bring in a hook that ties this song together and then properly sends it off on the outro.
“Leaving You in the Rearview” is the title track of the EP and the final song. This track is at a very close second on the record to my favorite track, “Recovery.” This track picks up in pace and brings the energy. I honestly can’t tell you how long this track was stuck in my head after the second time I saw these guys. I remember the bridge came up with a very distinct snare hit in which Johnny hits his chest in par with the snare. This action makes goes hand in hand with him saying “This is me giving up on you. I’m worth more than you put me through. I’ll never forget her she never looked better shrinking and my rearview”. It’s always great to see a great vocal hook outside of a song’s chorus and this song nails that aspect.
In conclusion, I have nothing but positive things to say about this band and EP. Now that the EP is out and in circulation, these guys are starting to make moves and definitely deserve to be heard. I wholeheartedly support these guys and know they’ll continue to write amazing music and to impact more and more people on a personal level. You can buy their “Leaving you in the Rearview” EP on most major media outlets with inclusion of a music video for their song “Silvertoes” on YouTube. Be sure to give these guys a like and follow on their Facebook and Instagram for details on what they’re up to.
TLDR: I hope you did read this in-depth review but if you found yourself skimming the read, know I give this EP a 4.8 out of 5 on my scale but I highly encourage you to check out why I rated it this way. This band has passion and show it in the best way possible.
Don’t sleep on Undergrads.