Worth Taking – Hangman

Hangman

When I write music reviews, especially for rock albums, I often describe the energy I receive from the tracks. I am overjoyed when one song can wake me up, lift my spirits, and get me moving. It is an incredible feeling, but I never knew that feeling could affect both the listener and the artist. Such a power found in albums such as Worth Taking’s “Hangman” makes me feel their lead vocalist Jerod McBrayer and I would get along great. 

Worth Taking was conceived from McBrayer’s experiences listening to Jimmy Eat World’s “Bleed American.” According to the band’s website, “his heart pounded, his veins pumped what felt like strawberry syrup, and his body felt like he was in one of those dreams where you try to run but your legs move like marshmallows.” After he recorded “The Anxious” EP, he set out to San Francisco in 2012, where he joined up with Chris Self on bass to create a powerful sound that later ascended when drummer Chase Kossack was added to the roster last year. Together, the trio recorded what has become the awesomeness of “Hangman,” to be released next month, which can be pre-ordered here.

Personally, the idea of “strawberry syrup blood” was enough to interest me, but I became hooked after I was gifted the chance to review their unreleased album. Their sound is a sweet blend of punk rock and pop, creating heavily guitar and drum-driven tracks you can hear clearly even at a low volume. McBrayer also offers incredible vocals and lyrics that mesh well with the instrumentals, such as in the song “There’s A Light.” I love the semi-perfect rhyming in the opening lines: “I have tried on my own a time or two/This I really feel I owe to you/Doubts I have begin to disappear/I find hope I have not felt in years.” The song tries to keep a pattern, but it is not afraid to occasionally break it, which is quite refreshing. It’s not predictable and keeps me interested and energized at all times.

Many of the songs included in this album have a similar tone: upbeat and moving. After all, this was one of McBrayer’s goals. Many songs like “Counting On You” and “Sinking In” have a fast pace thanks to the instrumental beat. This is definitely a great aspect of the album because it fits the idea of “strawberry syrup blood”: sweet, sugary, and quick. At the same time, I always found a number of catchy lyrics, including “I’m counting on you to show me the way” in “Counting On You” and “It’s finally sinking in/I found myself again/I never knew that all I needed would be here all along” in “Sinking In.” It’s amazing how these songs have so many ways of hooking listeners in.

However, one song that perks my interest is called “I’m Wrong.” Unlike other songs in the album, this one reminds me more of “marshmallow legs.” It is driven by the instrumentals, but these are slowed down to give them a more focused harmony with the vocals. Another intriguing part appears in the chorus when McBrayer sings “I admit I’m wrong” and “I knew it all along.” Not only is the vocal-instrumental harmony clearest here, but the lines are poetic for more than just the rhyming. The subject matter was close to me because I often argue with others, even when I know I’m wrong. I hate being proven wrong, but this song showed me there are some times when I need to show humility and admit my mistakes. This makes the album stronger and much more incredible overall, with this small lesson weaved in through McBrayer’s experiences.

McBrayer wanted to create the same feelings he experienced from “Bleed American,” and I believe he definitely succeeded with this album. I encourage everyone to listen to this album when it comes out next month. There is a “light at the end of the tunnel,” and in this case, it’s “Hangman.” Trust me though, this is one thing I am not wrong about.

Pre-order “Hangman” here.

 

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