American rock has been in a state of flux for a while, but with the likes of Rise Against, Thrice and Saosin come with it a banner and mark of excellence, could LA band Secondborn be the next big American band? With group members made up of experienced musicians, the newly-formed collective have just put out new release, ‘Symbols’, as they hope to escape the rigors of the music industry that all of the members pushed to escape.
Interestingly enough, the band themselves have self-funded their entire new start as a band, from production costs to the marketing that’s been put out. A focus on honing their sound and high production values over excessive hours spent touring indicates that they’re first looking to grab attention with a crisp sounding first record.
Recorded exclusively at the Lafayette in Los Angeles, the six-song EP gets off to raucous beginning with opener ‘Say Love’, the heavy drums and guitar complimenting lead singer Daniel Pinner’s vocals perfectly. It’s a bouncy post-hardcore rock tune that doesn’t let up for its duration, and is full of raw emotion, Pinner’s voice rarely letting up throughout. The chorus is a little weak in comparison to the rest of the song, but it gets pulled back around by the song’s conclusion to ensure it remains a strong start to the EP.
Second tune, and ‘Secrets’, is a different beast altogether, a much come complex and darker beast at that. Pinner’s vocals go through the entire range of emotions here, as they appear strained yet ultimately dominant as usual, despite the electronic instrumentation that accompanies the drum’n’riff combo that signifies the genre. Lyrically it is an interesting ride too, it shows that the band aren’t afraid to mix it up a bit, and on only the second song of the release too.
Third down is ‘When Lions Dream’, a lighter turn that has indie-rock vibes as opposed to some of the heavier tunes on this record. Tim Benson’s backing vocals are impressive here and give some solace to Pinner, who at this stage has done a good job leading the charge forward. It’s an altogether slower track that aims to give the listener a chance to take it all in, the journey thus far being a rocky, but fun ride. As a result, it feels more of a respite than any momentum being lost, although you do get the feeling that the conclusion could offer more in terms of a definitive ending.
‘Wolves and Hounds’, has a catchy refrain ‘your time has come, your time has come’, and a catchy riff to match, with some exceptional drumming providing a solid backbone at the song’s core. The breakdown that comes along just before the mid-point is nice and pushes the song to the next level, musically it might just be the most complete track on the record, thus far anyway.
Penultimate song, ‘In Winter’, is the closest the band comes to a conventional ballad, the heavy piano kicking proceedings off, and never really going away, amidst a cacophony of sound, the slow guitar drifting in and out, and Pinner’s strained vocals again taking centre stage eventually, the production on this track is heavy and pretty crisp too. I’m not a huge fan of the effect put over Pinner’s singing though, as I felt it stripped away his powerful quality, whether or not that was to go with the song’s vulnerable sound or not, is another discussion. Again, the climax saves the song, and sets us up for a powerful ending.
And finally, closing this expressive release, ‘Kings Blood’, is the perfect way to finish off your first record. Beginning like the opening scene of a horror movie, I can seriously imagine this soundtracking a 80’s misty graveyard scene, maybe that’s a wacky idea for the band to explore should a music video arise! It’s a slow, but steady start that eventually breaks through to a progressive, bouncy tune that doesn’t quite reach the benchmark of songs gone before, but honestly reminds you of what there is to enjoy about this record and band. From the top-notch drums, expressive guitar riffs, almost thoughtful rather than forceful, all the way to Pinner’s vocals, that have proven to be more than just a one-note howl.
They’re a collective trying to tackle the music business in the right way and in their own unique way, and ‘Symbols’ is definitely the start Secondborn would have wanted, keep an eye out for these Cali rockers.