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Knuckle Puck's "While I Stay Secluded" Reviewed

Knuckle Puck's Punk Pop

Knuckle Puck’s Punk Pop

On October 27th, 2014, Illinois Pop-Punkers, Knuckle Puck, released their sophomore EP While I Stay Secluded on Bad Timing Records. After coming off of an astounding year in the Pop-Punk community, many supporters had high hopes for a follow up to the debut EP The Weight That You Buried. As a supporter of Knuckle Puck myself, not only was I not in the least disappointed by this EP, but I was blown away by the musicianship exemplified through these six songs. Knuckle Puck have managed to expand on their signature sound and show how they’ve grown as writers over this last career-defining year. Through six lyrically powerful and musically intricate songs, Knuckle Puck have taken their sound and expanded on what fans have accepted it be. Known for prominent guitar leads and stressed vocals, Knuckle Puck have recognized the conventions of a modern Pop-Punk band and fit it to their own, unique sound. Each track on this EP shows Knuckle Puck as a maturing band, ready to take their craft to the next level.

1. Transparency

The EP opens with a heavily syncopated guitar and drum beat, then explodes massively into a fine tuned Pop-Punk song. It’s fairly obvious as to why Knuckle Puck would open their EP with this track as it immediately begins to show how they have matured. On their first EP many of the songs were simple and straight-forward, though that did not take away from any artistic value of those songs. To open with a track like “Transparency” makes it known that Knuckle Puck are more than just “d-beat” drum patterns and quick chord progression. This song shows growth in their sound; it shows that they have the capacity to create an intricate rhythm part to go along with their well-known type of riff. The dueling vocals of Singer Joe Taylor and Guitarist/Vocalist Nick Casasanto calls back to “The Weight That You Buried” to bring comfort to those afraid of change. “Transparency” is the best way for Knuckle Puck to show off their maturing sound, all while still calling back to what they’ve established in the past, making it to be a perfect first song.

2. Oak Street

Back in September, Knuckle Puck released a flexi vinyl featuring “Oak Street” and an acoustic b-side titled “Home Alone” to give fans a taste of what was to come in the near future. While it’s apparent that there’s progression through this song, it’s not as clear as it is in other tracks off of this EP. The true progression lies in the drumming. There is a fair use of the tom drums in the songs as opposed to the conventional hi-hat/snare drum type of beat. It’s refreshing to hear a drummer trying something new and having it work out so well, as one of the biggest challenges in music is bringing unique drum beats to break up the monotony of the songs and change the feel of it. To hear Knuckle Puck trying new kinds of attitudes in their songs is refreshing. It’s a nod to the fans that they recognize that Pop-Punk can get monotonous and that there is always room to try something new. This song calls back to “The Weight That You Buried” much more than the rest of the EP does, but the drumming in it really puts the maturing of songwriting on display.

3. Alexander Pl.

“Alexander Pl.” is an interesting song in comparison to the rest of the Knuckle Puck discography. The use of a triplet beat in the song gives it a circular feeling never tried before by Knuckle Puck. It’s quite common to find the use of 1/8th notes or 1/16th notes in Pop-Punk due to the quickness allowed with them; the speed gives it that stereotypical Pop-Punk feel. “Alexander Pl.” ignores that convention and uses a triplet pattern to ring a whole new perspective to what can be done with a song. It’s simple in nature, the lead riffs aren’t too complex nor is the rhythm’s chord progression, but the use of triplet makes it so defining on the EP. I find it to be one of the most enjoyable tracks as it brings a refreshing perspective to the sound of Knuckle Puck. This songs shows that they can write songs that are out of the ordinary and still make them feel as though they fit right into the genres definitions.

4. But Why Would You Care?

“But Why Would You Care?” was initially released as the acoustic track “Home Alone” on the “Oak Street” flexi record back in September. This song takes “Home Alone,” adds to it, and makes it one of the most powerful songs Knuckle Puck have written to date. This song differs in its lyrical nature as well as its musical stylings. In the opening of the song, a cleaner guitar sound is heard, which is so uncommon in Knuckle Puck’s sound. They are known for their heavy, distorted tone as opposed to the light, cleaner guitars on “But Why Would You Care?” It’s yet another nod to how they’ve expanded on and defined the sound, and made it their own. As opposed to the lyrics being about a girl, “But Why Would You Care?” is sung about self-doubt and fear of the future. It’s emotional and powerful; it lets the fans know that they feel more than just for girls, that they have their doubts, they have their fears, and they’re human. This song humanizes Knuckle Puck. A line like “These hands are broken and calloused, but nobody seems to notice” makes it known that there’s a feeling of neglect in their life – that they have problems, but no one cares to address them, let alone notice them. It takes a lyrical stance a la Dan Campbell of The Wonder Years, as he is known for writing of his own problems and addressing them in his lyrics. It appears as though Knuckle Puck have taken their shot at something in this vein and have succeeded gracefully.

5. In My Room

“In My Room” is a much lighter track in the Knuckle Puck catalogue. Both vocally and musically “In My Room” feels very open and airy; it is one of their more upbeat songs, and there is a big drum presence found throughout. It’s just a fun song and shows the Poppier side of Pop-Punk and Knuckle Puck. The mix of the song is very different than others as it lets the drums shine out more than the guitars by pulling them back. “In My Room” gives a new perspective of Knuckle Puck as songwriters showing that not every song has to be as serious sounding as the lyrics are. It shows that a pop-driven Pop-Punk song is something worth a try, and their attempt at making such a song makes for a light, upbeat song that is just simply fun.

6. Bedford Falls

This song quite possibly has the capability to throw Pop-Punk back into its former glory. It’s got a catchy hook and rhythmically syncopated guitars that pay homage to the syncopated type beat commonly found in the Easycore genre. “Bedford Falls” is not a happy song, by any means – it’s a song that acts as a thank you to someone who sacrificed all they had to give someone else a chance. It acts as an anthemic wrap-up to this EP and shows the most maturity in Knuckle Puck’s song writing. It implements many things that were not found on any previous Knuckle Puck recording and sums them all up in this single track. There’s syncopation, tempo change, intricate leads and rhythms, as well as calm vocals that jump to their signature stressed sound. “Bedford Falls” is a song that should close out an EP as it carries the heaviest message and has the rawest and most powerful feeling. Something about it just draws emotions that are felt throughout all six songs and forces them into one. It gives a nostalgic feeling to the hayday of Pop-Punk and gives any fan of the genre hope. It’s a song that anyone would enjoy, because of the message it carries. Lyrical messages are so important in music today and “Bedford Falls” surpasses the typical and speaks of something seldom covered. Knuckle Puck knows that they couldn’t be where they are had it not been for someone making a sacrifice for them – for them to make it to where they are, someone had to lose something. Not only do they acknowledge it, but by writing such a song they accept that this is the reality and that the only way to repay someone for such a thing is to thank them for everything they could’ve done. “Bedford Falls” stands alone among the other songs and truly shows who Knuckle Puck are in the best way possible.

Catch Knuckle Puck on tour with Modern Baseball from November 11th to December 15th, 2014

Pick Up “While I Stay Secluded” on Bad Timing Records here

Listen here

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