According to their press release, Plattsburgh’s Yo, Adrian! “is a post-hardcore/punk band that began … as a joke between friends with a pension for watching Rocky movies over and over again.” I’m not sure what currently passes for a retirement plan on the other side of the lake these days — I knew the economy was bad — but based on the quintet’s debut full-length, It’s Gonna Get Better, it appears no-fi rock is alive and well in Shelbyville. And it comes with a penchant for cheeky irony and a generous helping of punkish angst.
The disc begins with “Sleeping in Trees to Avoid Bears.” If nothing else, these dudes have a knack for irreverent song titles. (Some favorites: “It’s Never Wrong to Think About Bobby Brown.” “Group Hugs, No Thgs.”) Unfortunately, though, the album’s sound quality throughout most of the disc is poor to the point of distraction. It seems as though there are some nifty musical moments to be had, but they’re tough to discern through the wash of tinny crash cymbals and garbled guitars.
“I Have No Time for Jokes, I Have No Time for Waffles” offers post-punk nods to early Modest Mouse, with Corey Collins slightly miscast in the Isaac Brock role. The vocalist can unleash an anguished howl with the best of ’em. But lyrically he lacks depth, favoring overtly blunt sentiments such as “God bless the American dream / Where I can accomplish my goals and even earn a degree / while I languish in debt and never amount to anything.”
As mentioned earlier, the album’s poor recording quality is borderline obnoxious. But on “It’s Time to Play the Family Feud,” the cacophony ebbs and the listener can actually get a feel for what the band could do with some slightly higher fidelity. Guitarists Justin Passino and Eric Petersen work smoothly together, offering succinct and angular lines. Drummer Steve Kuntz — who largely overpowers the mix on prior cuts — takes it down a notch and proves an able foil to bassist Ian Countryman’s low-end rumbling.
There are similarly potent moments of clarity to be found throughout It’s Gonna Get Better, if you’re willing to work through the sonic mire to find them. Those instances reveal legitimate potential. They also suggest that Yo, Adrian! probably are better in a live setting, where their youthful punk energy would translate more vividly than it does on this CD. Find out when they visit The Monkey House in Winooski on Thursday, May 21, opening for B-Town skalwarts Husbands AKA.