Review Summary: "I ain't gonna wait around for some pill to kick in"
With "Rise Ye Sunken Ships" Brooklyn based trio "We Are Augustines" have created a raw, bloody account of the trials and tribulations of the life of their front man Billy McCarthy. Originally planned as a follow up to McCarthy's previous band Pela's "Anytown Graffiti", the album was scraped following the suicide of his brother James. What emerged from this tragedy (and others among it) is an album that is consistently heartbreaking, but at the same time manages to be both triumphant and rousing.
The ghost of McCarthy's brother, James, haunts the record, and is the lyrical basis for the majority of the album most explicitly on "Juarez", "Philadelphia (City of Brotherly Love)", and of course "Book of James". McCarthy also branches out into other subjects though such as the loss of a love in "Chapel Song" and "Augustine" which outlines his battle with depression. McCarthy bellows his lyrics with both passion and ferocity. It really adds something to the album, and no one can deny the emotion and effort he puts into every lyric. All of this lyrical mastery would be in vain of course, if it didn't have the instrumental basis to accompany it. Lucky than that we are treated to beautiful guitar sweeps and rhythms, and snappy, catchy drums. This is simple, heart on your sleeve music, and its impossible to resist.
Special mention has to go to "Book of James" which builds up to a brilliant breakdown, complete with trumpets and even hand-claps. Here Billy and his brother James trade perspectives with Billy singing “He stood there in his shoes, unable to move. / Kid, I drove all night here / to tell you I love you." Then Jim " “I stand in my shoes / unable to move / with my hat in my hands / at the bottom of the ocean.” This is the band at both its emotional and musical best, and is a standout track on the album.
"Rise Ye Sunken Ships" is a difficult listen, which it should be, cause these are difficult subjects. With such a raw basis this album could have been disastrous. Instead "We Are Augustines" have fueled their emotion and created a soundtrack to the hardships of life, and a good one at that.
"Book of James"
"Headlong into the Abyss"