Joining Shinedown and Megadeth on the stage at day two of the 2016 Carolina Rebellion this year will be Greensboro’s own Failure Anthem, who just released their first album with Razor and Tie. The album is First World Problems, and it is as important that you listen to it as it is to always have a jar of coconut oil in your pantry. Like, srsly important.
The group released a video for the first song on the album, titled “Paralyzed.” The song is powered by JD Eubanks’s strong vocals. This guy has the kind of voice that I spent much of my formative years listening to. The guitar is brief but memorable, and I’m still thinking about it when “Savannah” gently filters through my earbuds. I still can’t get over JD’s voice. It’s so beautiful! This song touches on the homesickness we feel despite knowing that the place we came from is more a figment of memory than a destination. The next song begins with a more electronic sound that reminds me of that Orgy album that came out when I was in high school, but “The Ghost Inside” soon solidifies its own identify of another success from Failure Anthem. “You’re never gonna kill me / I’m in here for good” screams JD, as he dialogues with that voice in his head that schemes to defeat his best efforts. I’m glad the group hasn’t given in to that voice, because this album is big and beautiful and honest and true.
With an acoustic start and JD’s voice taking a more tender tone, “Here for Good” ignites. I won’t tell you what it ignites, just trust me on that. Next, the title track begins with syncopation and electricity, and progresses into a growling gnashing of teeth about the inconsequentiality of “First World Problems.” Here we get to hear more of that gnarly guitar. Phalangeal agility is an understatement when it comes to guitarist Kile Odell. “I Won’t Say Goodbye” is an expertly produced raucously rocking track with a high-octane guitar-powered beat that pushes it forward like the carbonation in a Red Bull. The lyrics reveal a stubborn discomfort with inevitable loss and change that is so relatable it hurts. In “Leap of Faith” the group’s softer side emerges again, as they resolve to overcome the difficulties from the previous track. “It’s never too late to let go,” sings JD, as he strives to move on from a difficult experience. JD pulls the listener into “Just a Wasteland” with suave vocals that seamlessly flow between a hard rocking self-deprecating chorus and smooth verses. In “One Step at a Time,” the group pleads for redemption. JD’s voice evokes raw romantic desperation as he begs for “another chance” with all the power of his thoracic cavity. This is a man who refuses to give up, who persists with every fiber of his being – in the face of obstacles and challenges, both internal and external. This is the sound of humanity.
“Carousel” opens with haunting piano joined by a crying guitar. JD’s archangelic voice unites the two, with all the feeling of the previous tracks combined. Then a female vocalist with the sound of a jaded country artist joins in to make it a hair-raising duet. The duo sings of being “on a carousel spinning,” desiring to get off, but Failure Anthem is clearly on a trajectory to the stars. This song is an exemplar of the group’s self-effacing humility (nota bene: this is a classic characteristic of genius) while they have come up with a most excellent album. I hope the group is able to realize and recognize their talent and virtuosity, but that it does not undermine them in their sophomore album (and oh, how I hope they release another album soon!). The final song of the album, “3 AM” features JD’s voice soaring over the heartbeat of the drums, maintained with the steadiness of a drinking bird by Zane Frye. The album could have ended with “Carousel,” but it certainly loses nothing with the addition of “3 AM.”
Don’t forget to get your tickets for the 2016 Carolina Rebellion, it’s going to rock harder than a group of drunk geologists! Terrible jokes aside, it will be an amazing weekend.
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