Those are the first words you hear on Seaknuckle’s “Get Over It” and it couldn’t be more perfect. The Frederick quartet thrives in the blurred space between chaos and serenity and as these 11 tracks unfold, you find yourself on a joyride you’ll never want to end. The colors are many and the textures are both smart and simple. These guys hit you where it means the most. And they do it well. And they do it often.
Take that first track as an example. Eased in with singer Jon Phelps’ smother-than-baby-skin voice, “Little Blood” inevitably explodes into three minutes of face-melting. With constant ah-ah-ah’s that fade brilliantly into the music like an entirely new instrument, it goes from radio rock to pop-punk on a dime, fueled mostly by Colin Shultzaberger’s confident drumming. By the time Phelps shouts the beginning of the song’s center phrase — “we don’t” — it’s no more a relief than it is a moment of catharsis.
Painting the track beautifully is guitarist Joe Jalette, who turns out to be the star of the many shows this record puts on. “If You Want It” blasts off with a killer lead guitar riff that’s as bright as it is undeniable. Sure, the song is probably the most punk-rock these guys get (with the possible exceptions of “Granda Jr” and “So What,” which we’ll get to momentarily), but Jalette’s playing makes it awfully hard to concentrate on the upbeat tempo, if only because of how addicting his parts are.
Cases in point: “If She Bad,” which allows him to bend strings in a simplistically astute manner. Still not sold? Check out the mellow “Let It Go,” which is littered with graceful noodling that adds depth to the track’s first half. Need more? Go with “Lost In The Shade,” the only song that allows Jalette to take lead vocals. Not only does the dichotomy between the low-key introduction and the insanely aggressive hook blend fantastically, but one listen to its key refrain and you’ll find yourself yelling along in your head before falling asleep at night.
And that’s not to discount Phelps’ work on the mic, either. Single “Shake Shake Shake” is sung with such a seductive quality that the dance beat Shultzaberger gives it has to take a back seat to the singer’s sultry lead. Then, once the Beach Boys-esque chorus kicks in, with a full backing of falsettos that amount to pure AM radio gold, it’s lights out. There are pop songs that refuse to get out of your head, and then there are pop songs that take out a 30-year mortgage on real estate somewhere inside your brain. This is a case of the latter.
Yet even with all that established, there’s still one key ingredient to the Seaknuckle formula that stands above its peers and that’s the band’s edge. “Grandma Jr.” is so pouty and bratty that it might even make Joe Strummer smile. As Phelps snarls, “Is it over?!” it’s hard not to picture the meanest, scowling-est punk spitting everywhere as each syllable leaves the mouth. And while “So What” eventually settles into a nice groove, that seven-second intro is pogo precision in its purest form.
Countering nicely is a song like “Eagles” which eventually fades into a groove led by the expertise of bassist Matt Dabson. Sure, he wasn’t given the same space to shine like he was on the band’s earlier work (“It Won’t Last”), but that doesn’t mean his rock-solid presence isn’t consistently felt throughout. Just listen as he keeps up with the stuttering guitar lead in “Roofs” and realize that without him, this band wouldn’t be nearly as special.
But, fortunately for local music fans in this area, he is in this band, and this band is, indeed, awfully special. That’s what makes “Get Over It” perfect: Sure, the songs are fabulously performed and yeah, the craftsmanship is second to none. But Seaknuckle has that ever-allusive “It” that every great band needs in order to be great. Maybe it’s the attitude. Maybe it’s the skill. Maybe it’s the fearlessness. Maybe it’s all three. Maybe it’s so much more.
Or, perhaps more plainly, maybe it’s just Seaknuckle: A band nobody with two functioning ears and a taste for unforgettable music should ever get over.
**** 4 STARS OUT OF 4 ****