Friday, July 13, 2012

Breaking Backbones with June Divided

Since June Divided released their debut EP The Other Side of You in February 2011, things for the Philadelphia quartet have been a nonstop whirlwind of activity. Riding the success of songs like "If You Were Here" and "Breathless," and in particular the EP's lead single "Bullet," these alternative rockers are redefining the depths of their sound that straddles the space between Paramore and Jimmy Eat World. True, the Paramore comparison is an inevitable reality since Melissa Menago's vocals exhibit the same power as Hayley Williams', yet the band's true influences (by their own words), like Jimmy Eat World, Thrice and Foo Fighters speak volumes more than any surface comparison can. In addition to The Other Side of You, the music video for "Bullet" was an undeniable triumph for the group, and elevated the single to a whole new level. The concept for the video owes to a new-age horror flick with the filming as something that the band can be immensely proud of.

But today isn't about June Divided's first EP; it's about their first full-length album, Backbone, that dropped earlier this week on July 10, 2012. Taking what they did with producer Alec Henninger on The Other Side of You and amping it up to a whole new plateau, June Divided (working with Henninger again) find themselves exploring a vast new territory with tinglingly exciting possibilities. Though not a part of the music itself (and a seemingly lost art), it is worth noting the artwork for the album: simple, powerful and memorable, the album's cover adds to an already exciting feeling that's coursing through my veins as I hit play on the first track.
The first song I hear from the album, however, is not the opening track (which is the song "Waves"). Instead, I (along with everyone else who's been following the band on Facebook) was treated to the album's lead single "Secrets" upon its release a few weeks ago, and from second one, the song is completely unforgettable. The driving guitar chords set down by Melissa Menago and Chris Kissel tear through my speakers at lightning speed, and the powerhouse rhythm section of Keith Gill and Lenny Sasso blasts down anything that might be left standing. As the intro quickly fades and bleeds into a pulsating verse, Menago's vocals climb up over and cut through the air like a hot knife through butter. Gill's drumming is especially on point and the fills and rolls that come crashing down make for an exceptional end result: a track that thunders with power enough to match the attitude that it drips with. Clearly an excellent choice for the album's lead single, "Secrets" ensures that June Divided won't stay secret for long.
One thing that Backbone certainly has going for it is a track listing full of must-hears. Case in point is its title track which is an immediate classic in the band's catalogue. Kissel's guitar riff is addictive and rips with hellbent intensity through my ears, vibrating through the roaring peaks set up by Sasso's pounding basslines. Menago nails the vocals perfectly, and proves once again that June Divided is no ripoff band: these guys have their own groove and own the hell out of it. With Kissel's notes resonating in the foreground, Gill's drums carve out the bombastic cliffs that Menago's vocals do swan-dives off of. Not an outlier by any means, "Backbone" would certainly be my choice for the album's second single if I had any say at all, and is currently receiving the airplay it deserves on my show Underground Takeover.
Including other five-star tracks like" Waves," Skin and Bones," "Drive," and "Yellow House," Backbone is a smash success of a first album for June Divided. Combining explosive rhythms with clever and poetic songwriting, the Philadelphia quartet craft an instant classic for alternative fans in the new decade. (Seriously, it's no wonder these guys landed a bunch of dates on the 2012 Warped Tour). Resilient and powerful, Backbone will now act as a spine for all future June Divided works to grow from. Bottom line? You have to listen to this album: now.

Key Tracks from Backbone: "Secrets," "Backbone," "Waves," "Skin and Bones," "Yellow House"  

1 comment:

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