Album Review: Past Lives (Against the Current)

Back in 2012 I came across Against The Current on YouTube watching random music videos of artists covering Taylor Swift songs. Then I came across Chrissy Costanza, and when I first heard them do a rock cover of a Taylor Swift country song I was hooked. Before they signed their record deal with Fueled By Ramen they were a small pop-rock band out of upstate New York that energized their music with rock driven guitars.  Now, they are charging their own course with a changed sound.

Their sophomore album Past Lives takes the forms of many current pop-rock bands before them. All the guitars have been slowly drowned out by the techno edge that has engulfed the music industry. It has made music sound stale and robotic. What happened to the guitars? The edge that I first fell in love with in your early EPs?

The 80s electric pop is definitely coming back to the music scene and every artist is jumping on the band wagon.  The new album isn’t all bad and this isn’t going to be a blog post full of down and out on how I miss the old music days because lets face it, without change we are all dead.  Past Lives is a mix of 80s electric pop with side of techno.  The guitars have been replaced with music machines, electronic pianos, and stronger drums.  One of my favorites off the album is “I Like The Way.”  The song seems like a memory or a dream as the music has numerous overlays of voices with a wave of sound that is crashing over a heavy clap beat.  It reminds me of never growing old.  We all have to grow up, but to continue the youth that we are born with we need to remember all the things we love about life.  In the second verse it goes:

“I found a burnt CD-R in your visor
From back when you were in a band
You laughed so hard it hurt
But I like how that guitar looked when it was in your hands”

“Voices” is one of the few songs on the album that has a rock tone.  With a powerhouse guitar phrasing that is linked throughout the upbeat tempo of the song.  It is an interesting concept to have it be upbeat since the song is about negative thoughts taking over your own sanity.  The music video a little out there but this song reminds me why I fell in love with Against The Current.  Their forceful bass-lines, compelling vocals, and dynamic song writing continues to improve year after year.  No, I don’t think they are sell outs for continuing to grow and change, it all goes back to what I said before.  If we don’t change, we die.

 

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Band Spotlight: Against the Current

Girl fronted bands have been blowing up in the music scene over the last few years.  There is Paramore, The Pretty Reckless, Prvis, Echosmith, and now Against the Current.  Recently signed to the record label Fueled By Ramen (March 2015), Against the Current (ATC) is a three piece pop-rock band that consists of Chrissy Costanza (lead vocals), Daniel Gow (guitar and vocals), and Will Ferri (drums) from Poughkeepsie, New York.  Formed in the Summer of 2011 meeting through mutual friends and were originally a five piece band which also included Jeremy Rampala (guitar) and Joe Simmons (bass).  Ultimately, they have grown into the badass band they are today with a more enhanced musical sound, stronger stylized lyricists, and a fan base that I have watched grow on YouTube from a little over 100,000 to over a million followers.

In an interview with Maria Sherman the band stated that they utilized YouTube as a way to build their fan base outside of playing local gigs at pizza hangouts.  They were a band for about a year before ATC created their YouTube channel where they not only did covers of popular songs, but released original music.  The first cover they released was Good Time (Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen) as well as their first original Thinking.  Releasing both at the same time I thought was music business genius.  Fans of Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen searching online could come across ATC’s cover as well as their original music to help gain a new audience.

For the past four years ATC has done all the business related together as a team from packing up and sending merchandise, to spending a week to record and write in the studio to release new music for their fans.  The one support they have had before the label is a manager to helped book them all over the world.  For a band that just got a record deal in 2015 they have played sold out gigs in not only the United States, but in England, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Canada.  Now having a record label behind them they can focus more on their music as well as get a promotional push from the label to reach a radio level of success.

Their most recent EP Gravity has the potential to have radio hits, especially the song Talk.  Right now, the radio sound has been blowing up with 80s synth music (Taylor Swift, The Bleachers) and the comeback of electric guitars with groups like 5 Seconds of Summer and their 2014 break out hit She Looks So Perfect.  Chrissy Costanza has a powerful voice that has a range to be able to go from a hard rocker chick to a soft ballad.  Personally, I like her voice when it is on a bit of an edge.  The song Talk has an aggressive sound with the start of simple chords of a guitar and soft drum beat that explodes within the first twenty seconds.  Costanza’s ‘don’t mess with me’ attitude I think is the power every girl wishes they had when dealing with a boy that messing with their head; the younger generation has a great role model coming up with Costanza.

Against the Current’s push to go against the grain by releasing original music through YouTube along with covers gave them an edge in getting recognized by a label.  Their push to play outside their hometown, wanting the music to reach more than their inner circle coupled with the drive to do their music their way has a stead fast determination sure to take them far.  As their name is derived from the last line in The Great Gastby, “So we beat on, boats against the current, born back ceaselessly into the past.”

Music Video for Against the Current’s Talk.  Click here for ATC website.