Sunday, May 26, 2024

The Second Summer - undertow

Out now on compact disc on Kool Kat Musik is undertow, the debut album from Chicago-based power pop band The Second Summer. This album has already been endorsed by the illustrious Don Valentine, so you know it has got to be good. Undertow is one of those special albums where you can immediately feel the heart and soul the band put into it. The Second Summer is Steve Gatland on vocals & guitar, Joe Cancellaro on bass, Matt Broder on guitar & vocals, and Tony Holmes on drums & vocals. The pandemic was the impetus for these guys to get together to write and record songs. As band members dealt with the upheaval COVID brought to their lives, they found themselves with things to say and stories to tell. The band name was chosen because it gave them all something to believe in. And even when the pandemic faded, the inspiration and urgency remained. The Second Summer formed officially last fall, but three of the eight songs on undertow were recorded in 2020. These songs reflect not just where these guys were emotionally at the outset of the pandemic but also where they had come from and where they still hoped to go. If you love melody-driven guitar pop with huge choruses and silky-smooth harmonies, you'll be knocked out by the album's opening 1-2 punch of "The Reason" and "Something." And there's no drop-off from there. Vibe-wise, I'm feeling '90s indie/alternative in a big way. But the band's aesthetic is more timeless than consciously retro. These are simply fantastic, beautifully-crafted songs with relatable lyrics about adult life. Each track was released as a digital single, and that certainly explains the lack of filler material. But 100%, this feels like a cohesive album and not just a collection of singles. While it's chock full of gorgeous melodies and ear-pleasing hooks, undertow is a thoughtful and serious album that I really connect to on a human level. If I said "Wonder Why" and "Bad Feeling" didn't remind me of my own self-doubts, I'd be a liar. I can't imagine anyone on Earth not being able to relate to "Undefeated." Seriously, we all know that one person who will never admit they're wrong about anything ever. 

Undertow takes me back to my days of discovering music through '90s college and alternative radio yet feels fully updated for the world of 2024. Perhaps it was desperation that birthed The Second Summer, but from a power pop fan's perspective, it feels more like destiny. Order the CD here!

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