Happy Valentine's Day, world! Even if you don't have a special someone to spend today with, things aren't so bad after all. Jesse Michaels is making music again! Life is worth living still!
Classics of Love first hit the scene in 2009 with their EP, Walking in Shadows and I've been anticipating this album ever since. The EP showed a lot of promise and in the three year gap between releases (okay, they also released an Art of the Underground single in 2010, so technically it's only been two years), the band has only gotten tighter and, as a result, the LP is an improvement upon their EP in almost every way.
If you're familiar with Jesse Michaels and his previous work, you probably know that he has incorporated a lot of "ska" (I'll put it in quotations in case any ska purists would like to argue this) into his music. Operation Ivy was known for heavily sprinkling their songs with upstrokes and were one of the first "real" ska-punk bands (duh) and Common Rider did the same thing with a wider variety of sounds, incorporating lo-fi rock and reggae into their music. Classics of Love doesn't really do that. Two or three songs might use the classic upstroke guitar that Michaels' bands are known for, but all-in-all this is a much faster, near hardcore album.
Okay, so it's not quite a hardcore album either, but there's no denying the influence that 80's hardcore has on the sound of this album. The band (comprised of Michaels and all three members of Hard Girls) plays hard and fast, and it is definitely a call back to punk rock circa 1990. The longest track clocks in at 2 minutes and 37 seconds, while the whole album runs for a grand total of 22 minutes and 39 seconds. My kind of punk rock for sure!
Lyrically the band takes its cues from all the same places they take their musical cues from. Much like a good chunk of the Operation Ivy discography, these songs are soaked in social criticism. Unlike so many bands these days that will write a political anthem and then eat their own words, there's something about the way that Jesse Michaels carries himself and his songs so that he never comes off as overtly preachy. Yes, he's rallying against classism and poor up keep of the law just like so many bands, but there's an urgency and spark in his voice that everyone else is lacking. Perhaps it's the fact that this album calls back to the politically (however personal or universal) charged era of punk rock, but the band's cries of "We need a change!" comes off as much more sincere than any of their contemporaries.
2012 has the potential to be an incredibly bleak year. Politicians spend their time fighting over the tiniest of issues instead of the big things. People think it's okay to tweet "I'd like Chris Brown beat me any day" and mean it. The apocalypse may very well be coming (unlikely, but I won't rule out the smallest of possibilities).
It's all incredibly sick and sad.
Yes, 2012 looks very bleak, but Classics of Love's debut helps shine a light in these dark times. Thank you, Jesse Michaels.
STREAM IT HERE
ORDER IT HERE