Over the past few years, many lead singers from various bands have started up their own solo project, and while it’s not a new concept, it has been gaining steam recently in the scene. From Dustin Kensrue to Gabe Saporta, some have had great success (Chris Carrabba and Ben Gibbard) to not so much (Claudio Sanchez). Regardless of end results, though, many artists still try their hand at the solo career. The latest to try his luck is Underoath drummer and vocalist Aaron Gillespie, who will be releasing his solo debut, Southern Weather, under the name The Almost through the collaborate efforts of Virgin and Tooth & Nail Records.
Birthed in Salt Lake City, Southern Weather is a collection of 11 songs that span a variety of different vibes from upbeat pop-rock to quiet, somber pieces. Gillespie recorded every instrument by himself, save for some bass help on a few tracks, courtesy of The Starting Line’s Kenny Vasoli. Gillespie also has some vocal help from the aforementioned Vasoli and Sunny Day Real Estate’s Jeremy Enigk. And while all this looks good on a press release, what it comes down to is the execution on the album. Are The Almost poised to follow the paths set before them from the previously mentioned artists, or is Southern Weather a natural disaster you’ll want to avoid?
The first single and opening track of the album, “Say This Sooner,” is a stunning rocker. “Drive There Now!” is full of anxiety, while “Dirty And Left Out” is a calm and religious acoustic track that features Enigk on vocals. While the next track, “I Mostly Copy Other People,” which features the vocal talents of Vasoli. While musically it’s very similar to “Drive There Now!,” the vocal harmonies of Gillespie and Vasoli are very pleasing. “If Your Favour Is Small, I’m Perfect” is a rabid, unyielding song with a crushing chorus.
Sandwiched between two generic pop songs (“Stop It!” and “Everyone Here Smells Like A Rat”) is the uplifting “Amazing Because It Is.” Gillespie’s vocal strains channel Carrabba, while the timely placed horns and used of well-known hymn “Amazing Grace” as the chorus are reminiscent of a Sufjan Stevens song. Add in a Church Choir and climatic finish, and you have the best track on Weather.
The energy returns on “Never Say I Told You So” and “Call Me Back When I’m Honest”, which could both be mistaken musically as Louder Now b-sides. The final track “Everything Makes Me Sick” starts out with a carnival-inspired noise until the guitars kick in and closes out the album very weakly.
The first word that came to my mind after my initial listen of Weather was “catchy.” The second word that followed was “inconsistent.” There are a few very strong tracks (“Amazing Because It Is,” “Dirty And Left Out,” and “I Mostly Copy Other People” for example) but an equal amount of tracks appearing on Southern Weather come off as generic and tend to blend together. Southern Weather is not a bad debut album by any means, but knowing how talented Aaron Gillespie is leaves me wanting more. But vocally, Gillespie proves he can handle being the front man in any band, and Southern Weatherheavy on hooks and magnificently produced by Aaron Sprinkle, so those into the pop-rock sound will most definitely enjoy it.