Track Pack – 23rd-29th September 2019

Jimmy Eat World – All The Way (Stay)

No one could’ve really predicted that this would be how Jimmy Eat World would choose to release new music. Sure, it’s been a while since their last album, but succumbing to the rapidity of the modern musical climate has resulted in a new album announced and a single dropped not even a month in advance. Of course, there’s nothing to really complain about there, especially when their alt-rock / emo goodness has really only stayed more or less consistent over the course of twenty-plus years, and All The Way (Stay) is essentially more of the same. It’s definitely not to the heights of their classic work, but coming off Integrity Blues, this does feel like a natural step forward, both in the mid-paced bombast of the guitars and in Jim Adkins’ quivering but endearing vocal delivery that really is the backbone of what makes this band so great at what they do. But when the saxophone comes in towards the end, this feels like a next step being taken on all fronts, expanding their musical horizons in a way that’s distinct from the material they’ve released in the past, but never feels too far out of their comfort zone. It’s about as solid across the board as one could hope for from Jimmy Eat World, and for a band with a longevity and legacy like theirs, that’s something to celebrate.

We Came As Romans – Carry The Weight / From The First Note

To some degree, it’s difficult to go into these two new We Came As Romans songs with the intent to criticise them. It’s the first material in almost two years, but it’s also the first following the death of co-frontman Kyle Pavone last year, and there’s not a chance that both of these tracks are framed without some sort of cathartic intention behind them. That’s definitely the case in the writing, with Dave Stephens clearly still in intense grief on Carry The Weight and looking to hold on to the memories of his departed friend on From The First Note, and that context does honestly make these songs far better than they would be otherwise. Musically, the follow the polished metalcore formula that’s often held We Came As Romans back from being a better band, but there’s no doubt that their anthemic swell is coloured by real emotion, and there’s power in that that’s hard to deny. They aren’t exactly great in their own right and the shortcomings endemic of modern metalcore haven’t exactly gone away, but it’s easier to see where We Came As Romans are going compared to so many swathes of their contemporaries, and that does say something in its own right.

Stray From The Path – Actions Not Words

There’s not a great deal of expectation that comes from Stray From The Path anymore, though that’s not a knock against them. It’s effectively known that they’ll be at least consistently solid and crushing, and up to now, they’ve never really done differently, even with their singles from Internal Atomics. Actions Not Words is more of the same too, with Drew Dijorio’s harsh barks against the flooring grooves that have become their staple feature, and yet never seem to get stale or any less impactful. Lyrically it’s definitely among the broader section of their work in its calls to action, but for hardcore like this that relies on sheer size to get its point across, that’s something they can easily get away with, and it never detracts from a track that’s as good as this band usually is. It’s very much just another Stray From The Path song, but again, that’s not a bad thing, and when they’ve honed that mould to have this fine a point, it’s hard to really complain.

Waterparks – High Definition

The rate that Waterparks are releasing songs from Fandom makes it clear that this is either an incredibly hyped release or that some of them are struggling to stick all that well, and evidence has shown that the latter is probably closest to the truth. For a band who’ve proven so good at marrying pop-rock hooks with contemporary flair, their material from this new album just hasn’t shown that all that well, and High Definition is yet another case where the band struggle to find any considerable footing. The winding lyrics are interesting at least, but with the spare guitar line paired with a stomping beat that doesn’t have all that much momentum, there’s not much in the way of compositional quality to latch onto, and the emptiness of it all makes the AutoTune on Awsten Knight’s vocals that isn’t usually too much of an issue feel more out of place than ever. This feels more like a filler cut than anything worth highlighting pre-release, and when said release is right on the horizon, that’s not a good sign at all.

Counterparts – Separate Wounds

There’s always something to look forward to when it comes to new Counterparts music, and considering how good Wings Of Nightmares was, that doesn’t look to be slipping any time soon. They’ve simply become too well-loved among hardcore for that to happen, and Separate Wounds doesn’t look to see that changing either, as this is another remarkably solid track from a band well-versed in that by now. It’s not exactly reinventing the wheel given that all the usual Counterparts-isms are present and accounted for – big, sweeping guitars; spit-flecked vocals willing to go into soaring gangs when necessary; a general sense of bravado and scope that’s really leaned on well – but they’ve become so consistent and so good at what they do that there’s really no need to change any of this. This feels like the perfect point for Counterparts to have reached at this stage, where they’ve got a sound that’s all theirs and it’s still exciting without having to do too much with it, and that’s a testament to how solid of a band they really are.

Shvpes – One Man Army

It’s easy to feel sorry for Shvpes sometimes. They’re not exactly doing badly for themselves both at home and abroad, but it doesn’t feel like they’ve reached the level they really should, and even if their current nu-metal-leaning guise is better for them, they’re hitting that ceiling without ever breaking through it. That feels like the general case with One Man Army too, even if they’re exhibiting more of a desire to push themselves in a way that feels more unique to them. There’s a decent amount of bounce when necessary, and Griffin Dickinson has plenty of technical skill in his malleability at switching between singing and rapping, but there’s really no cohesion between any of these individual parts, and it can feel like a track trying to pull itself in three or four directions at once. It just doesn’t come together very well, even with the decently smooth production, and while it’s admirable that Shvpes are leaning into something more defiantly recognisable of them, it’s a shame it doesn’t pay off more.

Lande Hekt – Carpet

While Muncie Girls are by no means the biggest band around, they’ve made a considerable impact on the UK’s indie-punk scene that shouldn’t be understated, and so it makes sense that frontwoman Lande Hekt would embark on her own solo ventures sooner rather than later. Sonically, it follows those similar throughlines as well, as Carpet isn’t a million miles away from her Muncie Girls work in its homespun indie-rock stylings, but it’s definitely pleasant enough. There’s a nice jangle to the guitars that’s possibly the biggest defining feature of this as its own project, but Hekt’s easygoing vocal style and a generally welcoming atmosphere make a solid transition over, especially in lyrics that go for a similarly self-critical tone that makes everything gel together rather well. It’s not astounding by any means and a bit more material ultimately feels needed to decide how worthwhile this endeavour is, but this is a good start, and for a first offering, it does enough to justify keeping an eye on how that upcoming debut EP turns out.

Bad // Dreems – Morning Rain

It’s fairly easy to deduce what musical circles Bad // Dreems operate in from a few simple descriptions – they list Devo and Television as primary influences, as well as the indie-rock of their native Australia, particularly originating from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Thus, when Morning Rain is another scuzzy garage-rock track with notable post-punk influences, the sort that’s been in no short supply as of late, it’s hardly too much of a shock. However, this is definitely a more likable approximation of that sound than the majority of what’s come from it, particularly because Bad // Dreems keep their sense of melody intact without drowning it in more fuzz than necessary. That’s still there, of course, with the sneering riffs and basslines, but Ben Marwe’s strident vocals are given much more prominent mixing, and that does a fair bit to elevate this beyond just another rote indie-rock track, and into something a lot more propulsive and anthemic. It’s hardly reinventing the wheel, but Bad // Dreems are doing enough to freshen up a branch of indie-rock that’s in dire need of a retune, and this is a good example of how that can work

Words by Luke Nuttall

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