On the latest edition of Drew’s Untitled Review Roundup (or DURR), I dive into some of the more underrated emo records of the year plus a surprising addition to the metalcore canon from an unlikely group of musicians. As always, thank you for reading. Enjoy Volume 2 of DURR.
Field Medic – fade into the dawn
Kevin Sullivan has taken a “less is more” approach when creating the lo-fi folk under the moniker Field Medic and his first proper full-length fade into the dawn evokes the spirit of Owen mixed with his own brand of dark humor and pensive entries. Throughout the album’s ten tracks, Sullivan faces his innermost demons (best exemplified by knockouts like “henna tattoo,” “mood ring baby,” and “the bottle’s my lover, she’s just my friend”); his most vulnerable yet fearless songs pace the record’s 31-minute run time.
Underneath the serene acoustic melodies is a persisting sadness that Sullivan battles throughout fade into the dawn. Moments like “hello moon,” “tournament horseshoe,” and “songs r worthless now” reveal Sullivan’s romantic and personal struggles, making fade into the dawn one of 2019’s most devastatingly poignant experiences.
Run For Cover / April 19, 2019 / Recommended
Secret Band – LP2
The first rule of Secret Band is you do not talk about Secret Band. Just kidding – it’s the side project featuring current and former members of Dance Gavin Dance and The Antioch Synopsis. But this adventure isn’t just stylized DGD songs with Tilian Pearson’s smoldering vocals. Instead, LP2 is an exhilarating metalcore record that experiments with Jon Mess’ screaming dynamics and guitarist Will Swan’s musicianship.
Naturally, Mess still incorporates his absurdist lyrics (“I ain’t no fool/I cook the nuggets in the oven/And they taste so good/That’s why I put em in my stomach” is a personal favorite) but his unclean delivery has never sounded so lively. “Upgrades” is a twisted opener that channels the intensity of Glassjaw and The Chariot, while “Black Dolphin” and “Meat Bag” allows Swan to flex some muscle outside of Dance Gavin Dance’s proggy demeanor, laying down some incredibly creative riffs that elevate each of LP2’s ten tracks (the final 90 seconds of closer “Moon” are especially chilling). LP2 is a wild ride, subverting all expectations and following zero genre rules.
Rise Records / April 20, 2019 / Recommended
Free Throw – What’s Past is Prologue
After releasing two albums that showed off the band’s knack for buzzsaw power chords and a charming vulnerability, Free Throw’s third album What’s Past is Prologue dives into how debilitating mental illnesses can be and embrace the very real every day struggles of recovery. The album’s structure also showcases the Nashville band’s ongoing progression within the latest wave of emo, as tracks like “The Corner’s Dilemma” and “Anaconda Vice” exhibit fully textured guitar riffs seamlessly working with Cory Castro’s raspy vocals – neither element overwhelming the other like in past efforts.
Ultimately, Free Throw explore struggle and healing in a non-cheesy way by realistically providing a dark yet hopeful view into overcoming the darkness. The most optimistic thing Castro reveals is that you will fail at times but that seeking and asking for help isn’t a fool’s errand and that even the little steps we take towards self-love and improvement (such as discarding a pack of cigarettes during the anthemic title track) are worthy of celebration.
Triple Crown Records / March 29, 2019 / Recommended
Ceres – We Are A Team
Following 2016’s Drag It Down On You and the subsequent EP Strech Ur Skin, Ceres’ frontman Tom Lanyon experienced the lowest moments of his life, regretting how he expressed his relationships in past material and thinking his band was done. But instead of reaching the bottom, Lanyon turned introspective, found himself in a new positive relationship, and helped create his band’s best record yet – the life-affirming We Are A Team.
Summoning the sprawl of early Jimmy Eat World and the peppy energy of Motion City Soundtrack (props to the band’s fifth new member multi-instrumentalist Stacey Cicivelli) and reminiscent of modern-day standard-bearers like Oso Oso and The World Is A Beautiful Place, We Are A Team is oozing with positivity throughout, taking the Australian quintet’s blend of emo-rock to new euphoric highs. Moments like the fist-pumping power-punk of “Viv in the Front Seat” and the thrilling crescendo of “Me & You” will thaw even the coldest of hearts, while the culmination of Lanyon’s personal growth over the past few years takes shape over the album’s final two tracks – the six-minute “I Feel Better Outside” is an exuberant kiss-off to the past while the quiet demeanor of “Something Good” reinforces the frontman’s newfound optimism. We Are A Team breathes new life into Ceres, solidifying their spot amongst the genre’s pantheon.
Cooking Vinyl Australia / April 26, 2019 / Highly Recommended