January is not the most fun month of the year. After the side effects of the New Year pass by, we're met with dreadful weather conditions, gloomy skies, and bitter cold. Long gone is the holiday cheer, and the majority of America can be in a depressive state. Thank God for us music fans, we have Self Against City to rock away the winter blues. On their Drive-Thru/Rushmore Records debut, Telling Secrets To Strangers, the California-bred band -- vocalist and guitarist Jonathan Michael, guitarists Jack Matranga and Jeff LaTour and new members Hunter MacDonald and Justin Barnes on bass and drums, respectively) – have unleashed 11 pop-punk tunes full of energy and catchy hooks. Produced by Steven Haigler (Pixies, Fuel), each song will warm your frostbitten body and make you dream of summer nights.
The album is as good as pop-punk can be, with each song packing a different punch. “Becoming A Monster” is a hard-hitting track that sets off the mood of the record. Bursting with energy, the album couldn’t start off any better. “Stroke Of Luck” and “Even The Strong Won’t Survive” are both infectiously catchy and reflect on growing up, letting go, and living your life. The first single, “Ready And Willing,” is very reminiscent of The Starting Line, with an ecstatic Michael anxiously belting out “Overrated boys and attention starved girls/a little curious/a little insecure,” over the chorus of cruising guitar riffs. “Disappearing Act” is a mid-paced, guitar-centered song about a peculiar former band member.
The album switches up moods with acoustic-tinged “Tequila Moonlight.” Michael really takes command of the track vocally, and is a well placed change up in the album’s track listing. “Talking To The Mirror” features determined riffs and a toe-tapping bass line from MacDonald. One of my favorites on the album, “You Got It,” balances between calm verses and the powerful guitars nicely. Barnes’ drumming complements the force behind the driving guitars. “Smooth Silver” is a reserved track that builds up to a nice climax. “Yours Isn’t The First” is another laid back track featuring the acoustic guitar. The album closes with “Back To Our Innocence” brings the album full-circle. A toast to living young, Matranga’s use of keys gives the track a Something Corporate feel to it. An atmospheric close the album, it leaves you with an impression to live life to the fullest.
One setback to Strangers is the way the songs are ordered. It’s top-heavy with energetic rock tunes, while closing with 3 calmer, indie-pop tracks. If Self Against City could have mixed the slower songs between a few of the faster tracks, it could have prevented how the beginning can somewhat run together. Is this petty? Sure, but it would have made the album slightly more enjoyable for me and would have given the album more of a lasting value.
In the end, Telling Secrets To Strangers has the potential to get people excited about Drive-Thru Records again and will turn Self Against City into one of, if not the best, bands on the entire label. The album is one secret you will not want to keep to yourself, and if you enjoyed Based On A True Story by The Starting Line, then you will definitely dig Telling Secrets To Strangers. Come January 9th, Self Against City will be the “pick-me-up” you’ll desperately need during the upcoming winter months.
They are without a doubt one of the best bands on drive-thru but they only really have hidden in plain view, i am the avalanche and alister to content with now! anyone have any idea if homegrown split up or not? bit like rufio they've just disappeared!