Originally The Story So Far came across more pop than punk on its earliest split with Maker, but the debut album Under Soil And Dirt changes that up a bit since their beginnings in 2008. It's a welcome surprise too, especially since many pop punk bands have sagged lately.
All in all, it is the added angst that works for me — straightforward songs belted out with as much angst as possible. It feels more authentic too, as most of the members have exited high school and started getting on with their lives. Two of the members don't even live in Walnut Creek anymore.
Under Soil And Dirt twists pop punk into punk pop.
Perhaps the distance between the longtime friends is a blessing for them in disguise. The entire album was written ad hoc, with three of the members — Kevin Geyer (guitar/vocals), William Levy (guitar), and Ryan Torf (drums) — jamming together, making demos. The demos were then passed off to Kelen Capener (bass/vocals) and Parker Cannon (vocals), who added their parts.
"When we went into Panda, we had no idea what Kelen or Parker had written, everything was a surprise for us," Levy told Pop-Punk's Not Dead in January. "It was a treat most of the time."
They weren't the only ones surprised at times. Capener was also in the dark until showing up to the studio. They didn't know what might have to change once they sat down with Sam Pura at The Panda Studios. What did change, we many never know. But what we do know is how it all turned out.
No, they haven't lost their shirts. But finding any quality performances online is painful, especially with other bands claiming the same name (and they are not nearly as good.) Pure Noise Records has posted Mt. Diablo with a title card (along with some other songs), which better represents.
Mt. Diablo isn't the only track that catches. Quicksand grinds away on how every day pulls people apart and drags you under. Daughters, for a song about a drunk girl, has the biggest instrumental depth on the album. Swords And Pens is about a relationship bust up. And States And Minds, ripped in under one minute, is an engaging lead to the entire album.
All 11 tracks lend something to the album (some more than others). If you're looking for a theme, it's mostly about how every one of us has to face the daily grind, how that changes and tears us apart, and how, when it's all over, we all end up under soil and dirt. The title is taken from a few lines in High Regard.
Under Soil And Dirt by The Story So Far Buries 7.1 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
Not every song is as sharp as those mentioned. Paceholder replaces angst with whininess. Rally Cap is all about regret and reminiscing (yawn). And I'm mixed on Roam, which is a fine song but much less original than other tracks.
Still, I have to give these five guys a hand for an album with more scorching moments than not. The debut is solid, and some folks are already looking to The Story So Far to keep pop punk alive. Under Soil And Dirt by The Story So Far is on iTunes. You can also find Under Soil and Dirt on Amazon.