They are the pop-punk darlings from Sydney, Australia. They are UNFD’s hottest new signing. They are Yours Truly, and they are here with their new EP Afterglow. Yours Truly have taken off in the last year, and have capitalised on that by jumping on tour with Between You And Me, playing a movement inducing set at Unify Gathering, and performing in one of the headline slots at the brand new US Fest in Sydney. They will also be joining huge Australian act Hellions on their upcoming tour, and are firmly set to continue to smash it once Afterglow is released.
Afterglow rocks and rolls its way into our hearts with opening track “Circles”. An empowering song about rejecting female stereotypes, this combines the passionate vocals and lyrics with the ear-catching instrumentals to form an all-round good song. The powerful vocals of Mikaila Delgado match the tone of the lyrics completely, as she is clearly sick of being treated differently due to her gender, and comes across as being full of emotion, particularly with frustration and determination.
“The way you act ain’t right, and I’m over it / Frankly I’m just sick of it, what makes me different to you?”
The instrumentals are already showing that Yours Truly have taken a step up with their sound. Everything sounds much more polished, and it’s clear they have each poured their heart and soul into this EP.
The upwards momentum continues with “I Can’t Feel”. A particularly rock sound is evident throughout, with deep grindy riffs shredding constantly behind the fore-fronted vocals. The chorus is immeasurably catchy, and is held up by the toe-tapping and head-nodding bouncy verses that are a mainstay of “I Can’t Feel”. This all leads up to the climax of the song, which features a hard-hitting key change, taking everything to a harsher and harder level for the final chorus. As if revving an engine, the guttural guitars move into sixth gear and bring home “I Can’t Feel” cleanly and quickly.
The next song, “High Hopes”, was originally released in January of 2018, and is currently sitting on 3.1 million views on YouTube, as well as 1.5 million streams on Spotify. This isn’t a coincidence as it is a phenomenal track. Super catchy and exploring themes of ambition and disappointment in people, the future pop-punk anthem powerfully plants itself in your mind where it will relentlessly play on repeat for days to come.
Heading now into uncharted territory, (every song before now had been pre-released as a single), we get carried away by “Delusional Paradise”. Dreamlike guitars open it up, before taking your hand and guiding you into the slow rocking verses. Lightly revving guitars and mesmerizing vocals make up the chorus, where this soft and harmonious section of the song makes you sway, surrounding you with the smooth waves of sound. The rest of the song is kicked up a notch, as the appearance of Between You And Me vocalist Jake Wilson features throughout the rest of the track. Jake’s vocals add a sense of harshness to the song, and while that happens Mikaila steps up her own intensity to meet it. “Delusional Paradise” ends with a huge sounding bridge and a faster and even bigger final chorus, and closes out a bloody good rock song.
Finally we have the closing track, “Afterglow”. Mikaila’s vocals welcome us with a sense of sombreness. Soft and matching the slow guitars, she apologises for what she did, before the rest of the instrumentals kick in. A melancholic riff dominates, before proceeding into the much faster and heavier verses. Then as if they leap off a cliff, Yours Truly fly above the clouds with this fantastic chorus. Unbelievably catchy and powerful it is noticeable just how much they have pushed themselves vocally and instrumentally. “Afterglow” is the strong closer that this EP needs, and is a showcase of everything Yours Truly have to offer, as is the entire EP.
Afterglow has allowed Yours Truly to broaden their horizons. They have expanded on their original straightforward pop-punk sound, and have added in aspects of rock, alternative, and heavier music to their sound. It all comes together to form this terrific sound that Yours Truly varied around throughout the entirety of Afterglow. “High Hopes”, “I Can’t Feel”, and “Circles” have already done very well, but there is no doubt in my mind that the other two songs off the release will take off just as much, if not more.
Yours Truly will do great things off the back of this EP, and I can’t wait to see where they stand in the scene in a few years.
Berwanger – Watching a Garden Die
Josh Berwanger continues to evolve as a songwriter
At the height of Vagrant Records’ early success in the late 90s, the label was buoyed by the incredible draw of their two biggest names- The Get Up Kids and Saves the Day. And while those two bands took a chunk of the notoriety, there were plenty of great bands that called the label home. One of those bands was The Anniversary. The Lawrence, Kansas band shared musical similarities with both TGUK and Saves the Day, but were unafraid to branch off into slightly more synthesised terrain that gave their songs an added element. Coupled with their super easy to digest harmonies and fantastic male/female vocals, songs like “The D in Detroit” still has a place in countless “favorite playlists” all these years later.
Since their initial break-up, guitarist and vocalist Josh Berwanger has been busy writing and recording a bevy of music under the moniker Berwanger. His recent discography is a talented kaleidoscope of songs that traverse genres from folk and indie, to more rock and straight forward singer/songwriter fare. There was plenty to like on his 2016 album Exorcism Rock, an album that delved into a little bit of psychedelia and fuzzed out indie rock. His 2017 album And the Star Invaders saw a gradual move away from the more electrified to the imaginative kind of singer/songwriter we’ve seen from the likes of Devendra Banhart. True to form, Berwanger continues to evolve as a songwriter, and his latest, Watching A Garden Die, is the next chapter in his thriving songwriter cabinet.
The gloomily titled record is mostly upbeat and diverse. While he may have shown a kinship to indie/folk songwriting of the Banharts and Obersts of the world previously, Watching a Garden Die features the kind of seasoned and more classic toned work you’d find on a Crosby, Stills & Nash record, or even a Paul Simon record. Songs like the softly, almost whispered “Even the Darkness Doesn’t Know”, and quietly moody, introspective “Paper Blues” (until that electric guitar solo hits) harks back to a time long ago of unfettered hair and soulful folk music. The album’s best moment is probably a combination of the wistful, pedal-steel toned Americana of “When I Was Young” and the equally effective, spacey indie rock of “The Business of Living”. The latter giving Grandaddy a run for their money in that music department. These two songs in particular showcase an artist fully aware and capable of his abilities to craft music that’s personal but exhibits the kind of draw you want from a record this close to the heart.
The album doesn’t have the more ruckus moments Berwanger exhibited in his earlier work (outside of perhaps, the more upbeat power-pop, new wavy “Bad Vibrations”). At times the album takes just a few listens to grab you. But when you listen to songs like the spritely “Friday Night” and the somber reflection of the twangy “I Keep Telling Myself” a few times more, you find the depth of the record. There are elements that reveal themselves on the second, third, fourth listen, and that’s rewarding.
Berwanger’s songwriting ability was never in doubt, and his new material continues to expand his songwriting reach. Watching a Garden Die, while not a frantic effort, is quiet composure.
Fences – Failure Sculptures
Failure Sculptures is a steady outing
Christopher Mansfield, under his alter-ego, Fences, has made himself well known through the collaborations with Macklemore and Tegan & Sara. It’s set him up with well-deserved excitement for his new album Failure Sculptures. The genre of pop scores a good reputation with artists like Fences. I wouldn’t necessarily categorize this album as pop, but Failure Sculptures has catchy songs that will appeal to a large scale, however it keeps the integrity of accomplished music. Each song provides a story that allows you to drift into your own thoughts. He also uses idioms like there is no tomorrow.
“A Mission” is a lower-toned song that launches the album with an echoing sound of voice and guitar, and it sets an example of the whimsical type of music that is shown throughout the album. Mansfield has a way with words and was definitely listening in English class. A+ for storytelling. OK, you twisted my arm, I’ll point out some idioms: “body sways like trees in a storm” sung in “Paper Route” and “lately I just pass by like a cloud” heard in “Brass Band”. It’s a great way to paint a picture in your listeners head.
“Same Blues” exposes a folk side to Fences. It has a lovely addition of cello in the background. It is enchanting and flows so well, which makes a terrific inclusion to the album. The plucking and acoustic sound of “Wooden Dove” has a powerful effect, and suits the song well. It follows the theme of echoes and storytelling. Although “War Kid” is a song about divorce, it is a pleasant way to end the album, and it features more idioms; “tears falling like bombs“.
This type of music allows you to drift and flow in and out of your own thoughts. It’s a friendly haunting and emotionally driven set of songs (and don’t forget about the idioms), and while it is quite predictable in a pleasant way, Failure Sculptures is a steady outing.