The opening track, “My Concern,” starts off with Micah Schnabel’s guttural voice blasting out of the speakers, getting your attention right away. Even if you can’t always make out the lyrics through his muddled vocals, the emotion that infuses them is crystal clear. He sings with a passion like he has to do this to stay alive and the band’s music matches in intensity, an audio fist pumping in the air, defying all obstacles in their way.
These guys don’t want to be rich and famous; they just want to play and sing. It’s their plan to “Make It Out Alive,” a common theme of youth that seems especially pertinent for many growing up in places like rural Ohio where the guys are from.
The band’s sound is a good blend of styles. You can hear influences of Midwestern punk, alt country and even grunge, but to quote philosopher Billy Joel “it’s still rock and roll to me.” And for a refreshing change of pace they aren’t just mad kids screaming at the world. When they lower the volume and slow things down, the songs don’t lose any luster. “Saturday Night” is a slow, acoustic number sung by bassist Shane Sweeney, which recounts the tug-of-war between your girl and your single friends. When the narrator of “Brand New July” starts the song with the lines “this is the last time I’ll ever cry for you,/ my sweet, sweet girl. I’m through”, you don’t believe him.
This is an album that can mean a great deal to a group of friends who are living these stories or for those of us who remember surviving them. The band isn’t the voice of a generation, but they do wonderful job as the mirror of their age, capturing common moments and holding them up for all to look at and reflect on.