It’s pretty rad when someone does a really good cover of one of your songs.
With the Punches – Seams and Stitches
Record Label: Doghouse Records
Release Date: July 3 2012
Within the last few years, pop-punk has had somewhat of a resurgence, if you will. So many bands that want to sound like New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and (early) Fall Out Boy are taking over the scene, but New York’s With the Punches was not really one of those bands. They’re a band that I’ve been into for the last couple of years, but they’re a band that were in a league of their own. Sadly, the band broke up in 2013, and while it’s sad to see them go, I figured a re-review on debut album, Seams and Stitches would be in order. Prior to this LP, the band released a pair of EPs over a period of a couple years, and was already garnering attention from dedicated pop-punk fans. I didn’t get into the band until the first single entitled “Harvard On the Hudson” was released, and honestly, it was a really interesting song. The focal point in pop-punk is mainly on lyrics, but the instrumentation was still really good, along with vocalist Jesse Vadala having nice set of pipes. The lyrics really stuck out to me, because it wasn’t about girls, friends, hometowns, or any of the clichés that plague the genre. That doesn’t mean that these topics are not done well. I Call Fives’ debut self-titled record, released a week after this record, had a lot of songs about relationships, but it’s a very mature album lyrically. The lyrics to “Harvard on the Hudson” deal with Vadala wondering what he wants to do with his life, and he realizes that going to college may not be for him. That’s a really interesting topic to talk about, because sometimes, college just isn’t for everyone, and instead of going to school just to go, you should really be sure that you want to before you spend thousands of dollars. The song doesn’t say going to college is stupid, or that it’s really great, but it tells you, the listener, to make your own decisions.
Along with second single, “I Told You Already,” which was about Vadala being in a relationship with someone while he’s on tour with his band, I was very excited for Seams and Stitches. Both singles were awesome, and when I heard the album itself, it was just that. The album also came with a halfhour podcast of Vadala discussing each song’s lyrics, and what they meant to him. I’ve never really heard of a band doing that, and the fact that he sit down and spent some time really talking about the meanings to each song makes them much clearer and more interesting. Like with I Call Fives’ self-titled, I’m not going to say that With the Punches was the best pop-punk band ever, but I’m certainly upset that they didn’t get as big as they should have. Most of the record does follow the basic pop-punk formula, but not once does it feel washed out, or generic. Every track is absolutely memorable. There are no filler tracks, which is surprising, because most pop-punk bands have at least one. That’s not the case here, and the album is a great 38 minutes.
Since, as I mentioned, the focus with pop-punk is on lyrics, and well, there’s a reason why this album has resonated with me throughout the last couple years. The same can be said for I Call Fives as well, and honestly, I got that record at the same time as this one. Both bands have fantastic lyrics, but I will admit that With the Punches are better by just a margin. And if the meanings to both the lead singles didn’t convince you that Vadala is a great lyricist, tracks like “Postcards,” and “Home In a Lighthouse” might also convince you. The former track is another one about relationships, but this time, it’s a much more bitter track. It’s not done terribly, but the song is about Vadala being in a relationship where simply things go bad, and he basically regrets the relationship. The title comes from the chorus, where he says that he sent her a lot of postcards, but he doubt she read them, meaning that she didn’t really care about him as much as he cared about her. The latter track is one similar to “Harvard on the Hudson,” in the sense that it’s about something actually very interesting and hard-hitting – religion. Yeah, a pop-punk band talking about religion. The track deals with Vadala talking about how you shouldn’t let someone else shove their faith down your throat. It’s not done in a way that insults religion, but he just simply says that not everyone will believe the same things, and it’s up to you yourself to find out what you believe.
The instrumentation of this LP is pretty standard, as I said. It does have a rather basic formula, but it’s still done insanely well, so if you love pop-punk bands that just pretty damn good at what they do, you’ll love this, too. I also love the lyrics on this album as well, and they really help to make this band stand out. Comparing it to I Call Fives, their lyrics are good, too, but these are done just a bit better to me. On the other hand, I’m not as into Vadala’s vocals as much as ICF’s vocalist, Jeff Todd. Both albums are just as good, and I honestly don’t know which one I like more. I like the vocals more on I Call Fives’ debut, but I like the lyrics more on here, because they’re about things that one usually wouldn’t find on pop-punk albums, not only just girls and friends. In the end, though, I’m really bummed that With the Punches called it a day, but this album will forever be apart of my music collection and I couldn’t be happier. This album is utterly fantastic, and I wish they would have gotten much more attention than they did. Maybe pop-punk bands might come around to this band, and I hope they do.
Favorite tracks: “Postcards,” “Harvard On the Hudson,” & “Bad Pennies”
RIYL: I Call Fives – Self-titled, Fireworks – Gospel, & The Story So Far – Under Soil and Dirt
Overall rating: 9/10
We released #SeamsAndStitches two years ago today, thank you to everyone who supported it, supported us, and found something in our songs worthy of your time and attention. #LongLiveWTP
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Help Dustin from WTP help a Great Camp…
Dustin from With the Punches has teamed up with Planet New York Tattoo to help a really special cause. On April 5th, the tattoo shop, located in Poughkeepsie NY, will be offering special deals on some unique tattoo designs. The proceeds from the tattoos will help the Keystone Diabetic Kids Camp. Dustin helps run the camp, so its a cause near and dear to him. Check out more information here, and if you can go get an awesome tattoo and help a great cause!
Our friends at Planet New York Tattoo in Poughkeepsie are doing their 2nd annual benefit for the Diabetic Camp that DustinWTP and his girlfriend help run. Keystone Diabetic Kids Camp is a volunteer-run camp where children with type 1 diabetes, ages 8 - 15 can come to have fun, meet other kids with diabetes and experience camp in a safe environment with people trained to care for any emergency they might face while there. Last year was a huge success and we would greatly appreciate your support. There will be classic designs as well as original camp and diabetes related artwork, and tattoos for either $30, $60, or $100 depending on size and design. The proceeds from this event go directly to helping families who might not otherwise be able to afford to, send their kids to camp. Please share this as much as possible