Boston based Alternative / melodic punk band I AM NEXT have been on the go since 2009 when former Travoltas front man Perry Leenhouts teamed up with Hullabaloo guitarist Kevin James. They then recruited rock veteran Charlie Sullivan, formerly of the band Madding Crowd and the three set about writing, rehearsing, gigging and occasionally recording over the ensuing few years, culminating with the release of the band’s debut album ‘How To Tell The Phonies From The Phakes,’ in October of last year.
Following this, the three became four when they hired Rosario Santillan as drummer, and with Perry moving back to rhythm guitar the video for ‘Black Hole‘ was shot. However, shortly after this Rosario decided to move back to his native California, with his position behind the drums being filled by Boston native, Harry McKenzie.
And that’s where we are right now with I AM NEXT as they seek to build on their excellent debut album.
I have vague recollections of The Travoltas being a sort of fun-filled, pop-punk band from Holland but whether this is an accurate assessment or not, it’s a sound that’s most definitely reflected in this album.
And with the combined experience of the band, they score where others before them have failed in that I AM NEXT are able to sustain the interest-levels throughout the whole ten tracks. The harmonies are tight, the beat bouncy and the choruses catchy and anthemic, yet melodic and memorable. And while I guess I’d pigeon-hole the music on this album as pop-punk, there are little flashes of bar-room rock ‘n’roll and searing guitar solos (‘Leeches’); Sum 41 nuances (‘Black Hole’) and pared-back, three-chord ‘rocket -science punk as purveyed by the likes of Teenage Bottlerocket (‘Shackled.‘)
That said, the second half of the album brings in a greater degree of variation with ‘Hallucination Mania‘ heralding a heavier, slightly distorted and droned guitar sound veering towards Jesus and Mary Chain territory.‘Radio Wave Goodbye,’ is more of a standard, slightly grunge-tinged, indie track again featuring some nifty and flashy ‘metal’ guitar work, while ‘Lost In The Crowd,’ puts the the pedal-to-the metal so to speak and again combines the searing guitar with a bobbing rhythm. It’s an interesting combo – diluting the almost heavy-metal sound with something altogether more accessible and danceable.
‘Flashbulb‘ is pretty much more of the same before ‘Prime Deceiver,’ takes on more of a chugging rhythm, building again to that great fret-work. Closing track ‘Back In Line,‘ returns us to where we came in – more in the pop-punk line with pounding drums and riff-laden verses offset with melodic and hook-heavy vocals.
Yeah – you could argue that there’s nothing all that ‘new’ with this album, but yet it does somehow demand your attention. Personally, I think it’s particularly strong, although perhaps more geared towards an American market than UK at the moment.
I’d certainly say I AM NEXT would be worth catching ‘live,’ as it’s in this environment where I think this music works best. I can imagine their shows being a bit of a riot!
(‘How To Tell The Phonies From The Phakes‘ is available now (February 2013) through Cemento Records)
(8.5 / 10)