LaGrecia – On Parallels

Band: LaGrecia
Album: On Parallels
Genre: Rock
Label: Suburban Home

1. Hey Medic
2. You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts
3. According To My Notes
4. Don’t Wanna Be Right
5. Slower Than Manasses
6. In the Grass
7. Can’t Go Back To Daddy’s
8. Two Shotguns
9. My Lightning
10. Silently Just
11. The Montage

The first track of LaGrecia’s “On Parallels” is a bit misleading as it makes you think you are about to endeavor another dancy yet rough around the edges rock band a la new Against Me!. “Hey Medic” gets your toe tapping with progressive tempo changes and it concludes melodically and controlled, leaving you satisfied and wanting a sandwich. I felt betrayed as the rest of the record brought forth less enjoyable listens with predictable song structure and lyrics. They should have opened with “You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts,” “In The Grass,” or one of the other few tracks that overuses the psuedo do-wop feel throughout the album. Simplistic percussion paired with dreamy guitar riffs channel 1950’s sock hops in nearly half the songs, and throw in some 90’s rock, punk, and rockabilly influences for good measure. Though my opinion during first spins of their record had a downhill slope, LaGrecia still managed to amuse me with a few tracks.

Most of LaGrecia’s lyrics have me tuning out rather than singing along, but “According To My Notes” gets points for using the term “Rick-rolled”. My ears were perked by the silly reference, then they had me with a feel-good, rockin’ chorus. “Two Shotguns” – this track, you have to hear it, if not just for a chuckle. The moment the strings and vocal stylings kick in, I sing along to myself, “Whoah Black Betty, bam-ba-lam…” From the opening verse to the chorus, I note the rockabilly feel and nuances of southern rock with a driving, up-tempo rhythm. Also, about three-fourths into the song, there is a great little breakdown that demonstrates their clean instrumentation and regard for dynamics. To me, none the less, they channel Ram Jam in this track.

Though I acknowledge the instrumental portion of LaGrecia provides a pleasant listen, It goes without saying that Jason Shevchuk’s grating voice is exactly that. After eleven tracks of similar vocal rhythms, a whole lot of “na-na-na”s and “oo-oooh”s, it may be difficult to the untrained-by-Against-Me!’s-Tom-Gabel-ear to listen to this album. It is difficult to utilize the harsh vocal style and Shevchuk doesn’t push the envelope with it. I would have appreciated a few shouts or layered vocals for emphasis, or perhaps showcase his normal, unaffected singing voice (we know it exists, listen to those cool “whoa-oh”s on “Don’t Wanna Be Right”). The gravelly vocals provided were unenthusiastic and reserved, and I would have enjoyed the song “You Like Baseball, I Like Ghosts”, as well as others, better without them. However, there is an unexpected groove in the middle of the song, exhibiting the roots of the band members and hidden potential. “Silently Just” is my favorite track of the album, with a unique feel, bearable lyrics and a simple yet tight little instrumental portion. The only thing that falls short for me is the sparseness of the instrumentation – this track would be so epic with some keys or layered guitars, and it left me unsatisfied. “Don’t Wanna Be Right” is another song I wish sounded fuller, though I appreciate its poppy, almost Weezer-like refrain.

Despite my disappointment with the recording, I had faith in LaGrecia as a live band. All the ingredients for a great live show are present in this album: hand claps, repetitive parts to sing along to, and even some gang vocals in their closing song “The Montage”. However, in researching LaGrecia, the street beat is that they broke up in May 2008 prior to the June 2008 release of “On Parallels” because of singer Jason Shevchuk’s abrupt departure. It may be for the best, as I find LaGrecia to be lukewarm.

*Written By: Billy Table*
GRADE: 5/10

James Shotwell
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