Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Album Review: Dragged Through The Years by Aspiga

I have to admit that I've been slightly putting off reviewing Dragged Through The Years by Aspiga for a little while. I listened to a few snippets of songs to get a feel of the album and it didn't really grab me. Then I found a little bit of time to listen to the album and it finally did grab me and I loved it. Aspiga are a three piece from Collingswood, New Jersey, who have previously released material through such illustrious labels as Asian Man Records, Say-10 Records and Paper + Plastick Records. Their new album Dragged Through The Years was released by A-F Records at the beginning of September.

The album begins with the song Beautiful Wounds. The song wastes no time in getting going with some crashing guitars immediately starting the song off with a flourish. Aspiga describe themselves as an alternative indie punk band which is a pretty bang on description. Lead singer Kevin Day has a nasally vocal style that gives Aspiga their own unique sound. The song feels quite interesting in that the volume of Day's vocal doesn't really rise in the chorus like you might expect it to but the guitars and drums do. This gives it that anthemic quality without overdoing it with the vocals. As the song goes on, the tempo seems to quicken giving the great illusion of building. I enjoyed this. The second song August feels more like a fists in the air punk song. The tempo is quicker throughout and has you itching to sing along with the song very quickly. The chorus fantastic, with the lines "I'm sick of dying a little each night, can you see it in my face, I can see my flame slowly burning out, do you feel it too, am I like you?" really hits home and I feel like many people will relate. Up next is the track Searching which feels like it could have been the lead single for Dragged Through The Years. After a slightly moody start, we get to the chorus that will really draw the masses in. I can already imagine a basement full of people shouting "I've been searching for myself, and all I found was fool's gold" back at Aspiga.

Eucalyptus Nights is a stand out track on the album for me. It begins with just a guitar and vocals. This hooked me straight away. There's an urgent feeling about the song that I thought was fantastic. I love my music to have a sense of urgency. This urgency builds throughout the track to the point that it builds to some raw and harsh vocals to finish the song. I loved this. The urgency continues on the next song, Fading Into Summer. This song has me thinking a bit of Chicago punk legends The Lawrence Arms and in particular Brendan Kelly with a raw yet melodic vocal style. This, again, favours the punk sound over the indie and, for me, this is where Aspiga excel. It's a song you can listen to over and over again and continue to find new bits that you'll think are great. The sixth song is titled Good Thoughts. On this track Aspiga tone down the urgency slightly and treat us to their take on midwestern punk rock. It's a more understated song that just trundles along nicely, hooking you in without ever really getting over complicated. Direction is another highlight for me. Ramping the urgency back up, Aspiga use two vocalists on the track (I think), Day's now trademark vocal and a harsher raw vocal. The two work well together and it adds a lot to the Aspiga sound. I kind of wish there was more of this on the album. There is so much intensity in the middle portion of the track that has me going "yes!"

Momentary Flashes sees Aspiga show off the alternative side of their sound. Beginning with a pounding drumbeat before moving into an almost shoegazey dreamy vibe, Aspiga do a fantastic job in painting a picture with the song and taking you on a journey. The track is a positive one about wanting to live your life to the full and having no regrets. The drums in the ninth track, I'll Make You Believe, provide an excellent foundation for the guitars to play off. It's a simple beat that keeps the song together whilst the guitars do all the fancy stuff creating a great dynamic. I'll Make You Believe is an indie pop track with a catchy chorus that will get a room full of people singing along with big smiles on their faces. It's about doing your utmost to show someone what a fantastic person they are. More lovely positivity. The penultimate track on Dragged Through The Years is named Spirits. There isn't much of an opening introduction for the song which brings back that urgency that I was enjoying so much earlier on the album. The track is about learning from mistakes others have made in the past. I like how Aspiga use talking to ghosts and learning from them as a way to do this. It also creates some great imagery in my head and I can imagine an awesome music video getting made for the track. The urgency is upped even more on the album's final song, Don't Hurry Christmas. It's one of the more punk rock sounding tracks on the album but isn't shy about jumping into the more indie side of Aspiga's style as well. This keeps the album still sounding fresh, even on its eleventh track. The harder edge of the song helps finish the album in a big way and ensures that the band have given you everything they have on Dragged Through The Years.

Stream and download Dragged Through The Years here: https://aspiga.bandcamp.com/

Like Aspiga here: http://www.facebook.com/aspiganj

This review was written by Colin Clark.

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