The latest signing to the burgeoning Small Step Records is the brand new two-piece pop punk duo, Chainstay. The act is fronted by vocalist and guitarist Caleb Rose and is rounded out with drummer Thomas Krausz. Though they're just getting started this year, they're already ready to go with their debut EP, Trying To Hold Together.
Those who have followed Small Step and/or Indie Vision Music may be familiar with Caleb Rose from his other band, Must Build Jacuzzi. If you do know (and enjoy) MBJ, you're likely to feel right at home with Chainstay. Take "Frames" for instance - the guitar riffs, melodies, and layered vocals definitely sound like an extension of the skacore project. Though this is no ska band, the music is similarly fast and aggressive pop punk, which also occasionally dips into easycore. One of my favorite tracks from a musical perspective is "June." It's perhaps the most melodic track of the bunch, and it has a really nice, pronounced bass line. However, the closing track, "Parking Lot," may take the top spot, with an excellent driving pop punk sound that's super catchy and begs for replays.
The story of Chainstay is really one of heartbreak. Rose is open about having gone through a divorce in 2021, and much of the EP reflects the process of working through the ups and downs of the situation. Pop punk has always been a great genre for expressing one's feelings, and it makes a perfect backdrop for some emotional outpouring. "Drift" deals more with the effect divorce has on other relationships (specifically friendships), but most of the focus is on the inner struggles. In the main single, "Deciduous," Rose uses the trusty deciduous/evergreen analogy that we usually only see coming from the evergreen side (think Switchfoot and Gable Price and Friends). In the song, Rose sings, "Summer came and went and left me withering … When the weather breaks and the leaves start to fade / I remember what you told me that cold autumn day / oh, I'm deciduous." The song doesn't really resolve the unhappiness or tie it up in a nice bow, but it does end on a hopeful note, as Rose cries to God for help to survive the winter. This Psalm-like hopefulness is also echoed in the EP's final lyrics, "If I'm being honest / someday I'll get through this." It hurts now, but there's light at the end of the tunnel.
Chainstay's debut is a great introduction for a band that I hope sticks around for at least a few albums (or more). The songs are well-written, the genre never seems to go out of style, and Rose's lyrics are sure to relate to and inspire listeners going through similar situations. Hopefully Trying To Hold Together isn't the last we hear from these two.- Review date: 9/13/23, written by Scott Fryberger of Jesusfreakhideout.com
Record Label: Small Step Records
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