September 14, 2021
Photo: Nick Lewis
Jail Socks has been rocking the Charlotte scene for a few years now, starting as a project orchestrated by guitarist/vocalist Aiden Yoh, and growing over time into the three-piece that we know today. The emo-leaning rock band began releasing music in 2018 with a two-song EP and a split 7-inch with fellow Charlotte band, Placeholder. Placeholder members, bassist/vocalist Jake Thomas and drummer Colman O’Brien left the band soon after the release and became full-time members of Jail Socks. Now three years later, the group has the material and tenacity to strike confidently with the release of Coming Down.
Coming Down is the band’s first proper LP, following 2019’s It’s Not Forever EP. Their previous output garnered attention, particularly in the “emo-revival” scene, for being an example of a young band producing heartfelt, anthemic rock music. On Coming Down, Jail Socks has evolved from more twinkly, intricate, guitar-based music to straight-forward compositions that focus on catchy vocal melodies and introspective lyrics. Producer Brett Romnes (I Am The Avalanche, The Front Bottoms, Brand New) develops the sound and songwriting on the new project, reworking the music and giving it a refined polish.
Musically, the songs on Coming Down land somewhere between ‘90s alt-rock and early aughts pop-punk. The “whoa-ohs” peppered throughout the choruses of “Sick Weather” sound like something straight off a Warped Tour compilation album, while “More Than This” is reminiscent of the acoustic ballads that captivated college radio 25 years ago.
Many of the tracks on Coming Down find Jail Socks diving head first into their main strength: writing loud, catchy, energetic rock songs. But, the band does take some time to show its range and hint at directions they may pursue further in the future. “Losing Everything” is an example of the band slowing things down, providing a more mid-tempo approach to their typical sound. The true outlier on the album, and one of the most powerful songs, is “Pale Blue Light,” a soft, delicate number halfway through the album. The band explores some less familiar territory here, including gentle falsetto and clean guitar tones that eventually give way to a louder yet restrained finish as they sing to a lost friend.
The album’s lyrics embrace common themes of young adulthood: relationships (and their dissolutions), struggling with self-doubt and anxieties, and striving to grow past these things and into a more mature, learned human. “I’m not quite sure what’s happening to me, but I can’t seem to find a way out of bed,” the first lines on “Losing Everything,” encapsulate how it feels to lose the motivation to do even the simplest tasks. The title track closes out the album with a bleak look at regrets, loneliness, and nostalgia. Lead single “Peace of Mind” reads like a scathing note to an abusive ex-partner, with the chorus repeating “Was it worth it to you to leave it all behind? What a selfish waste of time.” The concepts explored in these songs are hardly groundbreaking topics, but they are universally relatable and written in a thoughtful, heartfelt manner.
The attention to detail on Coming Down is truly what makes this a special debut LP. There is an emphasis on melody and arrangements within each track, and there’s never a dull moment on the album. The band plays off each other effortlessly, knowing when to come in with a new vocal line or drum fill to keep the songs driving towards interesting ground. The vocal melodies and harmonies employed by Yoh and Thomas are consistently catchy, and are full of crowd-pleasing choruses that will surely be yelled right back at them from the audience on their upcoming tour.