Holding Onto Sound - The Sea (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Holding Onto Sound

The Sea (2011)

Geykido Comet

Whereas 2009's Songs of Freedom and subsequent West Coast touring brought Holding Onto Sound (then known as Holding on to Sound) newfound recognition, The Sea demonstrates even further development and (dare I make an Rx Bandits pun?) progress.

For while Songs of Freedom incorporated parallels of gruff punk acts like Against Me! and American Steel, The Sea is musically much more progressive. With a blend of jagged rock, ska, and punk anthems comprising stirring syncopations, weaving guitar leads and distinctive song structures, HotS has evolved from Songs of Freedom to The Sea in parallel fashion as Rx Bandits morphed from Halfway Between Here and There to Progress.

Take the album's second track, "Land of Do as You Please", for instance. It opens with a snaking guitar lick that leads into a scissoring ¾ cadence that breaks down into a reggae rhythm before building back up into a roaring punk pronouncement. "Brother" kicks in a little ska between crushing punk junctures and more interesting drum patterns, as does "The Black Death", following suit.

There are also more straightforward tracks on The Sea, but they don't seem dumbed down. "Tommy Boy" bubbles over with raucous rebellion and "Dynamite and Gun" matches its brevity while revisiting some of the band's Against Me! influences. "Watery Grave" is a thrashing ska tune that cycles a round of upstrokes before eventually morphing into a killer percussive breakdown and final declaration, "Swallowed by the sea, it's you and me."

Eschewing traditional pop and rock songwriting in favor of more complex structures and themes, Holding Onto Sound has shown that progress and punk are certainly not mutually exclusive. The Sea is engaging and thoughtful, and will likely further solidify the burgeoning fanbase HOS has managed to amass in just a short time.