Hanging in there…

“Hangman” by Worth Taking*

Hangman

The band is called Worth Taking, and while you may not have heard these guys before, you’ll be no stranger to their sound. The band’s website story states that “Jerod McBrayer listened to Jimmy Eat World’s Bleed America and it changed his life” – you get the idea? This is your power-punk band with expectedly energetic guitars, and gentle vocals that are little bit like Death Cab meets – somebody even cuter than Cutie? This is my first opportunity to preview a 2016 release in the New Year – their new album called Hangman comes out next month.

Before I had finished experiencing the first track, I could envision myself enjoying the whole album – a little Teenage FanClub, a little Blink 182, a little LIT; with a sprinkle of shoegaze or indie-folk style (a la aforementioned Death Cab For Cutie). There’s nothing too serious here, but there’s also nothing seriously wrong with simply enjoying a positive and upbeat commute soundtrack for your daily routine! And have I mentioned that I like the band name – Worth Taking. Worth taking… where? Worth taking…seriously? You’ll have to listen (or read further) to really find out.

The first track, called “Honestly”, honestly opens like you’d expect a punk album to start – as a slightly whiny punk-rawk kid voice blurts out “I’m not a liar, but I know I’ve lied!” This reminds me a little of “Sugar, We’re Going Down” by FallOut Boy. There’s even a pleasantly melodic chorus – which is nothing you haven’t heard, but also nothing to stop you from listening to more. If you enjoy this kind of music, it can be refreshing to have a variety of new bands to choose from every now and then, so don’t count these guys out!

“There’s A Light” is track #2, and I’ll think you’ll find this is like a vintage REM song. There’s a sort of 90s-esqe paranoid tribal sound that is actually really good, coming across aggressive guitars. Add in some innocuous and yet not annoying lyrics; the just seem to fit in with the music and there you have it: “I know there’s a light at the end of the tunnel / But it’s so small”. The radio-friendly pop-punk sound is back in full force on “Counting On You” – which could almost be the theme song for a show like Friends, it has such general appeal: “I’m counting on you to show me the way / I can’t see tomorrow but I still have today / I’ll keep moving forward try to enjoy the light / I’ll embrace uncertainty come on feel this light.”

A slightly darker sound emerges on Track #4 – “The Truth”. It starts out like Collective Soul and evolves into sounding like Linkin Park – showing a little variety for the band’s songbook here. But then the danceable chords are back again on “Say It Loud”. This is one of my favorites on the album, just because it is so upbeat and fun to listen to: “I’ve got to say it loud / I cannot stay proud / The things I’ve done the things I’ve done / Things I’ve said that I don’t mean.”

Track #6 opens with some edgier, very rock; almost metallish guitar chords. Musically, this reminds me of AC / CD on the intro… before going into a Foo Fighterish chorus of “It’s different now”. I love Dave Grohl as much as the next person, maybe more – if you agree then check this album out, or at least this song. The vocals are brighter and lighter – but if you imagine a Gritty Grohl on the vocals then you can kind of see what I mean about the Foo Fighters comparison (purely from a song style perspective).

“I Can’t Believe” is punk again! In fact, this is really the track that sounds like LIT or any other nostalgic punk song that you remember from your college days. Revived into modern times by bands like All American Rejects, etc… this is a fun sound brought into the pop scene by Green Day and Blink 182 and others back in the day – this sound will never really leave our hearts. This track is really short, and a little bit sweet! It is kind of great how this band is alternating the expected with some of their more varied work to keep the fans happy, but also show you that they are capable of something different.

The next song is so straightforward on the intro, I had to make myself listen to the entire thing just to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. It had a good chorus with some strong guitars (“I’m gonna make this right eventually”), but nothing unexpected. By contrast, track #7 (“Let Me Try Again”) starts with an interesting and echoey “na nana na-na” on the introduction that right away sounds a little bit different than the other songs. I’d say it is more lyrical, more melodic, more DCFC and almost like Owl City on this one.

As for the song “I’m Wrong” –I love it when someone says this to me, so I was already biased. Just kidding! Objectively though, this song is a bit slow and seems whiny to me – the energy doesn’t really match the other tracks so it didn’t stand out as a favorite. Good thing the pace picks up on #11 – called “Sinking In”. It’s hard to disagree with lyrics like this: “I found peace and understanding and I stopped being so demanding….It’s finally sinking in / I found myself again.” Sounds like this punk is growing up a little bit?

The album closes with “This one’s for you” – which is really the hit single; the one that will get stuck in your head and will have you singing along whenever it pops up on your Pandora rotation. The lyrics are a little cheesy, but that is part of why they are so catchy: “This one’s for you – this one’s for us/ This one’s for shaking off the dust.” In summary, I think the Hangman album would be great for your morning commute, or your anytime workout soundtrack. I figure if you have to commute and exercise, you might as well have fuzzy punk power guitars while you’re at it! The lyrics aren’t half-bad, either.

This album doesn’t come out in stores until February 12, so you might not be able to hear the whole thing right away – but go ahead and check out the band’s website http://www.worthtaking.com for a sweet pre-order deal (just $3.49 for the album!) and the opportunity to preview select tracks. I’m sure that this band, with its people-pleasing style and full sound would make a great live show experience with any of your friends, young or old, so while you’re on the website see if they have any tour dates in your area, too! Enjoy reliving your college days with something new for your collection of fun favorites.

*Photo not taken by rockmycommute – image shown is as originally posted on http://www.eartothegroundmusic.co on February 5, 2016.

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