LaGrecia - On Parallels
Suburban Home Records
Jason Shevchuk is a hell of a singer, and an engaging frontman. However, Jason Shevchuk is a pretty bad songwriter. I love Jason's voice in Kid Dynamite, but it was only part of what made that band so special and important for so many people. In the early era of None More Black, Jason was now the primary songwriter, and the early NMB material was pretty poor. To be honest, I'm not even a fan of the first LP. But, when Dave Wagenshutz and CPM (and later Jared Shavelson) stepped into the band, they gave it new life, and gave Jason's songwriting the supplements that it needed. Strong drum parts and stepped up guitarwork helped the band improve, and by the time they broke up, they were one of the best melodic punk bands going.
Unfortunately, Shevchuk hasn't surrounded himself with this talent in LaGrecia. Not only is he the primary songwriter, but he's also the only guitarist - a position I'm not sure he has the chops for in a band of this style. LaGrecia has stepped out of the ordinary for Jason and infuses more of a rock element. At times, it's fun and interesting. The chorus to "According to My Notes" is catchy and fun, "My Lightening" is solid, and "The Montage" is a deeper, dark ending to the album.
However, the album misses more than it hits. The drums are weak throughout, and very little is done to change it up and keep songs interesting. The bridge in "You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts" could provide a nice change, but it just seems empty. "Slower Than Manasses" never builds any steam or anything attention grabbing, and jazz inspired "Two Shotguns" borders on unlistenable.
After hearing the original LaGrecia demos, this was a surprise, since I expected the whole thing to be terrible. There are impressive parts and elements to this LP (not to mention the stunning album art), but by and large it misses its mark. Part of this can be attributed to Shevchuk stepping outside of his usual realm, and part can probably be attributed to him being a weak songwriter with minimal support musically from the rest of his band. Unfortunately, they've already broken up, and we'll never see if they could get it together.