It all started out with a couple of hyper fourteen-year-old kids making some noise in a bedroom, and has now grown into a group of college students recording their own compositions. The band, hailing from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, writes and records their own music, as a sort of self-expression and therapy, and now gives us You Had to Be There.
You Had to Be There is a mix of rock, pop-punk and alternative influences that lead to a variety of grungy songs. The songs are long and emotional with a lot of the focus on the vocals. The first track “Nobody Hates Us More Than Us” starts out with a reverb-laced guitar in complete contrast to a smooth and clean bass line. The guitar is somewhat simple and to the point, and is eventually joined by the vocals. These are not professionally trained musicians, but each play with enough attitude and confidence to make it work.
Each song is long and comprehensive with a clear message and theme. It’s cool to hear the purpose of each track. The composition, chord progressions and melodies are pretty standard pop-punk sounds. This album is more about self-expression rather than showcasing a new type of style, sound or way of playing music.
The third song of the album “Collide-O-Scope” is a highlight. The introduction is really unique and immediately caught my attention. It starts out with an odd, electronic sound and background voice saying “Palm tree...palm tree.” Instead of the more out-of-the-box pop-rock sound that the other songs have, this track has an interesting composition and progression. The song slowly but surely makes its way into the first verse, where the vocals come in with a more authentic and emotional sound. The lead singer is singing at a lower octave in “Collide-O-Scope” which seems to fit him and the chemistry of the band much better.
As the album progresses, the band moves from a standard pop-rock sound to a more unique rock sound. These guys are obviously not the best individual musicians in the country, and have a rugged, grungy sound but the genuine emotional effort put into this and the chemistry they all share make You Had to Be There an interesting rock album.
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