The Story So Far - Under Soil And Dirt
Release Date: June 21, 2011
Record Label: Pure Noise Records
I don’t know much about boxing, but that’s okay because I mostly write about music. I do know that some boxers try to spar, take a lot of damage while only dishing out well-placed blows. Other boxers are more aggressive, the heavy hitters who take a lot of swings and try to land punishing punches. Of course, when you take a lot of big swings, there are risks involved – missing a punch can hurt and you might end up paying the price.
The Story So Far is definitely a pop-punk heavyweight. The good news for the California-bred outfit and their outstanding debut full-length, Under Soil And Dirt, is that most of the big blows are landed. With aggressive musicianship and passionate, on-the-line vocals that bring back memories of Set Your Goals’ Reset EP and Mutiny! full length, The Story So Far writes the exact type of pop-punk you want to hear out of a band in its early stages.
Under Soil And Dirt sounds like it was written in a garage by a bunch of kids in their early 20s, but also sounds like it was recorded with a bunch of nice-looking microphones. Parker Cannon’s lead vocals certainly benefit from the improved production value, while the musicianship is a major notch up from previous releases. The introductory track of “States and Minds” into “Roam” is a solid balance between musicianship that is more thought out than expected and a major hook in the chorus. The hook lands again in “Quicksand,” as slightly troubled youths in the suburbs will easily sing along to the chorus of, “This quicksand / It pulls me under.”
“High Regards” and “Mt. Diablo” make the middle of this album its most important part, as both of the songs are similarly structured and equally catchy. These songs, most specifically the brilliant “Mt. Diablo,” are the knockout blows that make Under Soil And Dirt something that I’ll come back to time and time again. The end of the 11-song effort sees a solid closer in “Closure” (nice), but it’s almost overshadowed by the forever-sing-along-able chorus of the acoustic-based “Placeholder.”
Under Soil And Dirt is part of the new school of pop-punk with all of those hardcore influences, but it’s not like the endless list of records that mess up that formula. It’s music that you’ve heard before, but delivered with such an urgent force that it makes you pay attention. There are no corny breakdowns – instead there are actual well thought-out portions of musicianship. There isn’t an unnecessary overflow of gang vocals and there are no awkwardly placed screams.
The Story So Far is already doing this sort of pop-punk better than the bands that started it – Under Soil And Dirt has enough firepower to rival Mutiny! and it’s certainly better than Set Your Goals’ upcoming release. Somewhere in the middle between the slightly cornier side of the genre and the passionate, desperate core that provides for these angry, angsty songs, The Story So Far shows the potential to develop into a frontrunner in the genre, and it all starts with Under Soil And Dirt.