Earlier this year I remember reading/hearing about afterschoolspecial at various places online but unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to check out their material until earlier this summer although this EP has been out for months now. This band, hailing from San Diego, stands apart from a lot of current acts today with their sound and dynamics as a whole. By implementing and meshing together various genre’s of music afterschoolspecial aims to bring together music that sounds unique yet oddly familiar as well all the while touching upon a various range of subjects. With their EP ‘not one for words’ we are given a peek at just how they plan to accomplish such a feat. So are they on their way to doing just that? Read on to find out.
Forever– The arrangement is pretty enjoyable on this opening track though the mixing isn’t as crisp as I would have liked it to be. Jaimie, the female vocal of the group, adds a great texture to the song but definitely isn’t perfect in her execution. MC Dan Aka Dan does a pretty decent job on the verses and his delivery really seems to fit this hybrid rap/rock type of genre well. In fact his style and flow reminds me a lot of the frontman for Gym Class Heroes. If the instrumentation were mixed louder I think it would have pulled me in more but as is it lacks that extra ‘oomph’ though it’s still a great song.
Future Rock Stars of America– Stylistically, this track reminds me of Limp Bizkit. There’s something about Jaimie’s vocals that doesn’t completely fit as well here. For some reason the verses come out somewhat awkward but everything definitely sounds better in the chorus. Much of the verses sounded a bit sloppy too me, and I’m not sure if it was intentional but it was kind of distracting. Though the song rocks out hard it didn’t feel fresh, almost like a cover of some vague song I’ve heard years ago but can’t identify.
Bad Education– The drums are great and really drive the energy of the song. In addition, the guitar riffs are also very catchy and I think I hear some classic rock influences in there. The song really gets me nodding my head and both of the vocalists are very much on point here. Though I gotta admit there are points where there anti-establishment vibe feels a little forced and wears a little thin towards the end, especially during Jaimie’s solo. Regardless of the few missteps it’s a relatively fun track.
Name – I’m really digging the opening guitar riff, it sets up a great foundation. I gotta commend the group on their story telling abilities that manage to keep me engaged as a listener while keeping the narrative moving smoothly. This track really finds it groove by the time the bridge comes around. This song came together really well and is one of the more organic joints on the EP.
Forever pt. 2– Starting off with a beautiful piano instrumentation the track continues to build until it ultimately crescendos into an anthemic rock climax. I was definitely feeling this one. The stripped down approach on the early parts of the track was very fresh choice and the overall dynamics of the song are great to listen to. This is by far the most natural sounding cut, surpassing ‘Name’ for the honor.
If I had to sum up ‘not one for words’ in one phrase it would be “almost there”. There are lot of things this band is doing right, but rarely are their strengths played out to the full potential. Admittedly, I have no contextual knowledge into how long this group has been together but it seems to be that they are still developing and identifying their signature sound. While it’s pretty clear they have a fair idea of what they aim to be, this EP indicates there are some clear disconnects and shortcomings in achieving that vision. My main complaint is that there are many instances where things didn’t come off or fit as naturally/cohesively as it should have. Sometimes Dan’s flow would be too sloppy, sometimes Jaimie’s soulful voice sounded out-of-place, sometimes the mixing was off leaving tracks feeling flat, etc. What I do heavily appreciate about this release is the group’s ability to craft a good story and deliver it in a fairly unique format. There seems to be a general tendency where the group sounds best when stripping back a few layers of instrumentation and allowing what’s left to breathe more in the mix, freeing up room for expression from the vocalists. I was a little puzzled as to why the title track of the EP was not included since they shot and released an MV for it as well. A shame because I really enjoyed that track too. There is definitely a lot of potential here, and I think as the group continues to grow as artists they will definitely hit their stride in full. I’m looking forward to what the future holds for them.
Must Listen: Forever, Name, Forever pt. 2
a-Tunes Score: 7.5/10
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