A lot has changed with Among Giants since I last wrote about them back in 2012. The most noticeable change has been in the overall delivery in the music. Truth Hurts seemed like a record trying to find a voice. It fluctuated between full band, and (basically) solo songs. It was very much a record built around folk punk. Back And Forth has more or less shed that particular influence in favor of a more straight forward, melodic punk rock sound. As a full band, Among Giants has kept one thing going from the previous release. That thing is the heart.
It’s hard to view the changes as either good or bad. As a preference, I am certainly more fond of the full band direction. I’ve never been a huge proponent of folk punk, and this new EP is certainly a lot more my speed. It builds upon what they did on the intermediary releases. While the 7″ and the split with Aspiga also had more of a folk punk vibe, it was clear that it was just one facet of what was possible. As a final release, Back And Forth is consistent in a few senses. It is consistent with the growth of the band, and consistent as a cohesive record.
The tone of the record is set right away with “Cats & Ferrets.” It opens with a muted guitar riff that is reminiscent of other bands from Florida.The remaining three songs build on it, and get more aggressive sounding as the EP proceeds. Musically, it’s solid as fuck. There are a few sticking points, and it echoes what happened on their full length. It can get a bit repetitive. The songs are more or less structured the same, especially on “Hardwood Floors” and “Art School.” This isn’t really a major issue, as they maintain a good energy throughout the entire running time. It definitely has it’s hooks in you by the time “The World Is Not My Friend” rolls around.
This will serve as a good introduction to the band. It’s a solid release that shows a continued growth. Among Giants are still a young band finding out how to express their voice. I remain, as ever, very interested to see where they go next. Right now they are a band that plays a great bit of Florida, melodic punk. That may change a bit in the future. But, there is certainly not anything wrong with that.
These are the records that were fantastic, but just this side of the top ten.
1) Save Ends – Strength vs. Will (self released)
2) Among Giants – Truth Hurts (self released)
3) Red Collar – Welcome Home (Tiny Engines)
4)The Eeries – Home Alone (Evil Weevil / Burger)
5) La Sera – Sees The Light (Hardly Art)
So, folk punk is still a thing. It is a pretty fucking expansive genre, which probably explains the longevity and continued popularity. You have everything from the anarcho-punk rooted stuff on Plan-It-X to the more personal, emotional stuff. Like any other punk related subgenre, folk punk is both loved and derided by people depending on which part they hear. Among Giants fall into the latter variant, it is pure emotion that is devoid of the sloganeering bullshit. In short, Truth Hurts is a great record that has a lot of heart.
Among Giants play a great mix of indie, folk punk, and pop punk. The record flows at a pretty consistent pace, and it hits way the fuck more than it misses. It encapsulates the general angst of post-college aged kids, which is a much harder thing than it seems. From around 1994-2000 music for this age group was primarily disaffected and wallowing in some post-modern idea of “irony.” The music geared to that age range these days is similar in it’s jadedness, but remains optimistic. This is the strength of Among Giants as a band and Truth Hurts as a record.
“Late Nights” is one of the best album openers in recent memory. As it should, it almost perfectly sets the emotional tone for the remainder of the record. “Get Your Shit Straight” and “What’s The Point?” are able to paint optimism and frustration in a way that avoids getting preachy. The whole record plays to this narrative, and it is much to the strength of the overall thing.
While some points can get a little samey, Among Giants are able to keep things interesting by mixing the acoustic guitar and a guy stuff with the great full band stuff. This split occurs sometimes within single songs. It makes for an engaging listen. It might not reinvent the wheel, but it sure is good. This shit rules, ok?
Stream/Buy It (BandCamp)
*I’m still unsure if this is a proper full band, just a single dude, or some variation thereof. So, I just defaulted to a full band. So, yeah.