Hailing from Jacksonville, Florida, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
is a new band who plays the ever so loved combination of pop punk and what the media labels screamo. Musically some influences of rock and even some metal come out in their progressions and riffs. The formula all comes together and makes for an extremely nice listen. Nothing is ground breaking original, but honestly when was the last time an album in this genre was" Remember this is pop punk, not progressive. While not genre defying, this album is quite far from the boring, generic sound you hear from a million other bands. It has a few moments, but as a whole RJA can be recognized in a field of similar bands. Their debut Don't You Fake It
perfectly captures the genesis of the band, as despite their young age a good deal of maturity and talent is shown.
I remember a year ago I was standing in the crowd
waiting for my chance to break through, my chance to live again.
Now it seems I've found some friends who finally understand
what it takes to make this dream come true, we'll be here till the end.
The first few lines of the opening track In Fate's Hands
say exactly what the band is about, honest songs people can relate minus the overwhelming amount of concealed meanings. Now when your band states that it just sets up for others to step in and mercilessly ridicule them for a lack of depth. Fear not, they are miles ahead of Hawthorne Heights and have already mastered writing simple yet effective lyrics. Seemingly, there is no better vocalist to deliver these words than Ronnie Winter. His singing is very smooth and he shows his amazing range throughout. It is very refreshing to find a singer with a range as great as his who can reach its peak without a whiney tone. It is equally as welcome to hear screaming as powerful as it is here. Things sound defined and finely tuned, and the moderate use of the screaming adds a very nice touch to the overall sound. I'm not sure who does the screaming, but they are capable of doing some very nice synchronized dual vocals. From the opening song, the guitarists’ talents are not revealed all the way, but some catchy progressions are put together. The song writing is solid and there is a wicked bass interlude until a screeching scream builds up and leads back into the final chorus. It is a very powerful moment leading into the chorus and outro. Yes unlike many of the bands who end with the chorus, RJA adds another little section to the end showing their solid song writing.
A bit of their poppy side is shown during the first single Face Down
. Vocals are obviously the emphasis throughout the verse, as the instrumentals are all fairly simple. That changes when a perfect mid-tempo riff comes out during the chorus. Once more vocals eventually take of the spotlight position, as Ronnie shows his tremendous range and his true vocal capability is shown. As previously stated, it is so difficult to come across a singer in this genre who can get that high without having a nasally voice. The only screaming comes out during the bridge, and is a perfect example of the successful dual vocal patterns the band can exercise. Some soft back round vocals are heard during the final section showing a bit of punk roots. Often times these influences are shown in the backing vocals. However, no matter what the influences, the band always sticks to their pop punk form. Now the smooth vocals are not the only pleasant surprise found on the record. For the most part, after the first four tracks things take a noticeably slower turn. Not saying the rest of the record is ballads, but things are more moderate for the next few songs. Now plenty of bands do this, but the surprise here is that things do not get boring. It seems no matter what style, acoustic, piano, clean guitar, or a blazing distorted chorus, Ronnie is capable of singing flawlessly over it. The band keeps things from becoming bland themselves although musically their softer songs are not as strong as the heavier ones. Cat and Mouse
is a prime example of this. Musically it is only a little above average, as the guitar is quite basic but provides a solid section for piano to expand over. The superb vocals end up making it a great song. Lyrically the song is a bit simple, but still works out nice. With a slower song incorporating piano, the band shows variety on their debut and proves they are capable of some different styles.
Things will pick up once again during Atrophy
which features an awesome little riff during the verse. This is probably the best verse on the record, as the music and vocals are equally as strong and catchy. Once more their main style is shown, with little influences peeking through the cracks. Lyrically, this song does exactly what they stand for. Songs with no hidden meaning yet which have a dominant point getting across. The softer bridge involved piano once again and works out great yet again. Captain consistency Mr. Winter once again delivers a darn near perfect vocal performance, fitting the music wonderfully as well as shining in his own light. It becomes obvious that the band can incorporate some guitar riffs yet keep vocals strong, as another magnificent song is heard. The last real song on the record is the softest and possibly the slowest. Your Guardian Angel
opens with two and a half minutes of acoustic guitar and soft vocals. Hat’s off to Ronnie for once again delivering a smooth vocal performance. Throughout the track, his voice comes off so soft and refreshing. The acoustic work is nicely done as a tiny melody comes off during the second verse. Things fit so well together before blowing into an incredibly epic final chorus. Truth be told I was not expecting the band to blast into a heavier section but they did and pulled it off fantastically. It truly was a surprise, not only for the change but also for the fact that the section worked so well. I could not have thought of a more perfect ending to the record (save the hidden track) as they really hit a homerun with their vision.
Throughout the record, you will forget that the average age of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
is 21. The maturity, pleasant songwriting, and eclectic mix of styles all add up to a wonderful sound. It has been heard before to a degree, but with unique vocals and some different elements, Don't You Fake It
is quite a strong debut record from an upcoming group. Between smooth vocals, powerful screaming, nicely written progressions, and meaningful lyrics, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
will be a familiar name in no time. They are fairly easy to digest, yet do not seem to wear out like many bands in the scene. Their variations of sounds make me believe they will be around for many years to come. Regardless of what the new trend is, I'm sure RJA will have an answer for it. They are not afraid to drift away from their main sound, but know how to stay in it while adding diverse traits. Once fully blossomed, this band will really be a treat, as at such a young stage, they have already shown what they are already capable of. The future looks strong for Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
as they shall continue to grow as a band, musicians, and as songwriters.
Final Rating: 3.5/5