Thursday, February 21, 2019

Review: American Secrets - Wasn't Our Season EP

    While pop punk isn’t exactly a genre one associates with Alabama, the state actually had a pretty good roaster of bands back during the pop-punk-with-breakdowns wave from around 2008-2012. The state boasted Carridale who had a bit of success nationwide and virtually every scene in the state had a talented pop punk act or two, with even Gadsden boasting solid ones like Apollo 11 and Off By A Long Shot. Unfortunately, since about 2014 though we’ve have been in a bit of a rut when it comes to the genre. While the state has enjoyed a bit of an uptick in more traditional punk bands American Secrets seems poised to break the states pop punk dry spell. The four piece's first release Wasn’t Our Season boasts six tracks of solid songs falling on the very poppy spectrum of pop punk that may remind devoted southern pop punk fans of TN’s On My Honor. The EP opens with the title track Wasn’t Our Season which gives listeners a good introduction of what they’re in for and if the band is for them. If you like your pop punk with a little hardcore edge the band may not be for you but for those that enjoy catchy mid-tempo style in the vein of say Real Friends, the band are likely up your alley. The band follow it up with "Be Mine" a slightly more high energy track more in the style of say New Found Glory with very cute sappy sing along lyrics like “I wanna be your late night drunk text, I wanna be your shot waiting at the bar, I wanna be that last little reason you come home with me so make up your mind”. Other highlights include "Bed Sheets" which I must say is easily the most sickeningly sweet pop punk tune I’ve heard in quite some time. Fans of the genre may well experience some feels from this one with its lyrics like “Don't hide under the bed sheets, The sun can't shine through, Don't let your heart keep fading, Because I'm right here waiting “. Tracks like "Smoke Me Out" and "Said Goodbye" meanwhile may not be quite for everyone as the higher pitched vocals occasionally veer into chipmunk territory but nevertheless are solid tunes. The closing track aptly titled "Last Song" kicks things up a notch with some pop punk breakdowns and some slightly harsher vocals before wrapping the EP up with a neat bow with the closing line “Summer just wasn’t our season”. All things considered, this was a surprisingly impressive debut and I’d encourage readers to throw the guys a few bucks rather than simply going the free route regarding their Bandcamp. Additionally, if you enjoy the EP, the band's YouTube page may be worth checking out as it features a variety of covers from both big name pop punk bands like Fall Out Boy and up-and-coming ones like Waterparks.
          -Kevin Spann

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Those Goddamn Liars At The GAD! Zine

    I promised a bazillion folks a while back that we'd be updating this site on a more consistent basis. Turns out I was mistaken. Until NOW! Well, this is the first post in almost a month, but after "NOW!", we'll be posting articles of various lengths, subject matters, and uh... quality far more often. My relatively meager dream is for us to post new content every day. Probably be closer to 5 days a week, but we'll see what happens.
    Like everyone who is reading this, we have lives outside of this creative little box. As I've said many times, life interrupts art. Sometimes things take longer than initially planned. Disappointment and rigidity of concept are two killers of the any process. The creator will become disappointed that things are not working out according to the original plan or not meeting the original deadline. Especially if the deadline is self-imposed, it would be better for that creator to adjust their expectations. You don't have to take life's lemons and make lemonade (or a battery!), but being adaptable can be an asset to the independent and budget-conscious artist.

    Preachin' the Gospel of Punk, here. You don't have to be a music student with thousands of dollars worth of equipment to be in a cool band expressing yourself. A lot a folks have big ideas that they can't imagine being smaller, so they don't try. A few years ago, I wanted to make a zine. A lot of my "peers" kept bogging down the project with ideas like full-color and glossy pages and a $10 price tag. All that sounds nice. It was hard to get started and unlikely to be even remotely sustainable. Like I said, we're poor and we have lives to kinda maintain. A lotta people were overwhelmed by their preconceived scope or just let down that the project would be anything less than their "vision". And they went away. I finally just said, "I'll make a little zine just like the ones I made in high school." I knew it was doable (if dumbass Teen-Adam can do it, anybody can), so I did it. It's a photocopied black & white rag on standard paper. Some people still don't get it (they never will), but with the help of many friends and family, GAD! has taken on a life of it's own.

    The threshold to a blog or a website is far less daunting than even a Sniffin' Glue knock-off. We intend to take better advantage of this. GAD! is now a zine, two websites (if ya count The Alabama Underground Music Directory), a podcast, an internet radio show, 3 music compilations, a yearly music event, and a really bad Christmas album. All of them done with the same utilitarian mindset. Just "fuckin' doing it" already puts you ahead of the curb. We have no competition. No confusion over what our success is. We do this because we love it. Every issue, every article, every episode, every whatever is the accomplishment. Sharing what we love is the success.

Oh, yeah. And GAD! Zine Issue 20 is running a little late....