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JFH Music Review

Abandon Kansas, alligator

Abandon Kansas

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock / Alternative
Album length: 10 tracks: 34 minutes, 3 seconds
Street Date: May 11, 2015


There are bands that you can't help but cheer for; you hope they do well and with every release you wish to support them. Abandon Kansas seems to be a band that carries that sentiment with fans and indie-music bystanders. After AK signed with Bad Christian, this reviewer couldn't help but be intrigued at the possibility of what alligator may hold.

The album opens with the dark "Mirror;" for most of the track, the music is subtle with lead singer Jeremy Spring's vocals carrying the song with an ethereal melody. However, at the halfway point, the song evolves into a more post-hardcore sound. While I think the song is truly a gem, it doesn't set the tone for the album very well. This is followed by the title track, "alligator." The music is smooth yet gritty and the vocals have a less aggressive sound from the opening track yet still reach a rich climax; this really is a sweet spot for the band and showcases their style very well. Thankfully, this same sound is captured on tracks like "Baby Please," "Get Clean," "Shadows," and "You Oughta Know."

"I Hope God Don't Mind If We Talk Awhiles" is perhaps the most interesting track on the album. It features some beautifully layered guitars and a nonconventional melody that favors slam poetry over a rock song that covers topics like religion, relationships, anger, pregnancy, etc. It's a potluck of emotion, and it makes for a very intriguing experience.

Without a doubt, the real instrument that the band showcases is Spring's vocals; he has an impressive range with flawless wails and a lamenting tone that could easily move a hard heart to tears. That being said, "What You Meant" is the most honest and thought-provoking track that the album gives to listeners, as it is a cry from a son to a father. The most heart-wrenching line is "You'll always be my father, now you'll be my friend. I'll follow in your footsteps, until the sidewalk ends… and I will show my children, they'll know how much you meant." It's a clear picture of a man who wasn't perfect but deeply loved.

Truth be told, this album isn't for the casual listener; if you're looking for sweet radio songs or additions to a shuffled playlist, you will be sorely disappointed. This is more like a composition with multiple movements; it must be consumed in its entirety. And no it's not for the faint of heart, there is some moderate language scattered sparsely through the album that some listeners may be offended by - however, for this reviewer, it seems to be in context and not meant to be crude. Needless to say, this isn't a faultless album. There are some lackluster moments, but the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. So for that reason, it wouldn't hurt for folks to give this album a chance.

- Review date: 5/11/15, written by Ryan Barbee of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

When Abandon Kansas launched an indiegogo for their new album alligator last year, the band was clear what their goals were: "I'm not trying to make a dark record, I am just trying to make something real, and the reality is that I'm in a dark place in my life. I'm struggling with defeat and depression and anxiety and some identity and addiction issues. The goal with this record is to live in that brooding tension, instead of trying to offer answers, neatly gift wrapped in each song. I'm just going to let it hurt for awhile."

There's no doubt the album feels real. It also feels dark. But the album's darkness transcends more than the three profanities that pop up (p**s, d**mit, and a muffled use of a**h***). We get front row seats to tragedies like loss ("What You Meant"), addiction ("Get Clean"), and heartbreak ("Anniversary"). We do get glimpses of hope on tracks like "Get Clean," where singer Jeremy Spring obviously laments his condition and expresses his desire to overcome his addiction ("I want to get clean"), and "You Oughta Know" ("love can make you whole/only God can save your soul"). However, the whole album has an angry and frustrated vibe to it that listeners never truly escape ("I Hope God Doesn't Mind..." and "Mirror" typify the tone). A good musical comparison is House of Heroes with some differences, of course. One being Abandon Kansas is determined to make sure no one has any fun listening to this record. Unlike past upbeat and fun detours like "Marching Around Me," "You+Me+The Radio," "Like It Or Not," and "Liar," alligator is pretty much a joyless rock album with a bleak tone. Yes, "Get Clean" is a strong rock song with a terrific bridge, and both the ballad "Anniversary" and the acoustic "What You Meant" are emotional. But the rest of the laid-back, melancholy rock tracks don't sound any more interesting than what was on Ad Astra Per Aspera.

Everyone experiences dark times. We as Christians shouldn't ignore them, but we shouldn't be defined by them either. While Abandon Kansas may have wanted to set out and make a "real" album, they pretty much made an angry rocker project that has been done time and time again. Sadly, the music doesn't do enough to balance things out, and there just isn't enough interesting material to justify all the angst. One final quote from their indiegogo page about alligator: "We're heading back to our roots in the creative process, leaning on what comes from the gut first before thinking too much." Yeah, well, maybe there should have been some extra thought put into this complicated album. - Review date: 5/9/15, written by Nathaniel Schexnayder of



JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

Abandon Kansas has really gone through some tough times in what can be an uncaring, money-hungry music industry. As outsiders, we don't really know a whole lot about the situation, but the band has made it known that their label experience was not a good one. So it seems like they made a wise decision in returning to their independent roots; their pairing up with BadChristian to release alligator seemed like an even wiser move, as the personas of those involved seem to line up quite well. Releasing music with BC Music allows the band to be more honest and aggressive. Jeremy Spring is more open here than ever, especially in the raw and emotional "What You Meant," which is dedicated to his father. In just over three minutes, Spring chronicles the strength of his father through life's ups and downs, including trudging through your faith when it seems like the world is collapsing on you. The end of "Mirror" seems a little grim, as Spring closes the song by saying "God can sweep the rug out from under you whenever He wants." Is it true? Yes, albeit a slightly depressing take on God's character. On a different note entirely, I love the guest appearance by Shane Ochsner (Hands/Everything In Slow Motion). His screams are perfect for the angst-ridden, post rock sound of the song. Alternatively, Brianna Gaither comes around a few songs later and adds a delicate touch to "Anniversary." Overall, in the eyes of this reviewer, this is a big step up for Abandon Kansas. Ad Astra Per Aspera didn't really hit me as much as it did others, but the sound and feel of alligator really feels like the band is finally coming into their own. Fans of the band should give this a shot, but don't expect the polished sound of Ad Astra Per Aspera. - 5/7/15, Scott Fryberger of

After four years of EPs, Abandon Kansas returns to the scene with their third full-length album, alligator. This project has an incredibly raw feeling to it, dealing frankly with the struggles we face as humans. Sin and hurt are consistent themes, as well as the ongoing working-out of faith. The atmosphere of alligator is somewhat disjointed, but it works in an odd way. The album's opener, "Mirrors," reflects a more artistic side of the band and is one of the better tracks on the album. "Anniversary" is another beautiful piece, as is "What You Meant." Listeners should note that some minor vulgarities/profanities ('pissed' and d**nit') are present, in addition to some relatively mature thematic elements (like drug addiction). Overall, alligator is a solid alternative album that's not afraid to take a risk and is more than worth a listen. - 5/11/15, David Craft of

Back with their first full-length effort since 2011's Ad Astra per Aspera, the new record from Abandon Kansas finds lead singer Jeremy Spring in a particularly revelatory mood, laying out an unapologetically forthright, unvarnished look at his tortured soul. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the absolutely bracing opening song, "Mirror," whose gentle, ethereal vibe soon gives way to throat-shredding, near-crazed cries of "I'm so sick of trying / I can't fake it anymore/ I'm not getting better" that will leave all but the most dispassionate of listeners at least a little uncomfortable. From there, Spring dives headlong into treatises on broken relationships ("Anniversary"), sobriety ("Get Clean"), rejection ("Baby Please") and death ("What You Meant") with a sincerity and verve that equal, or in some cases surpass, that of the first song. Of course, all the honesty and vigor in the world doesn't mean much without an engaging musical underpinning to carry them along. To that end, Spring & Co. succeed magnificently. Those who fell in love with the buoyant, danceable groove of the Gotee-based singles like "Heaven Come my Way" and "Turn it to Gold" will find that aesthetic in less plentiful supply this time out. In its place are gritty garage rock offerings ("Shadows"), haunting ethereal pop numbers ("Anniversary") and stark acoustic odes to deceased loved ones ("What You Meant"), the latter of which finds Spring breaking into tears by the song's end. The unrelenting poignancy may be a bit too much for some listeners, and the comparatively varied sonic pallete is a bit less immediately accessible than that of much of the band's earlier work. Listeners willing to invest the time and emotional energy to listen to Alligator with open minds and ears, however, will find that the AK collective's latest outing is not only their most eclectic, but also most compelling undertaking to date. - 6/30/15, Bert Gangl of



. Record Label: BC Music
. Album length: 10 tracks: 34 minutes, 3 seconds
. Street Date: May 11, 2015
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It:
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Mirror (3:07)
  2. Alligator (3:05)
  3. "I Hope God Don't Mind If We Talk Awhiles" (3:10)
  4. Baby Please (3:14)
  5. Anniversary (4:05)
  6. Get Clean (4:04)
  7. Shadows (3:29)
  8. What You Meant (3:20)
  9. You Oughta Know (3:29)
  10. One Foot in the Grave (3:00)


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