Canadian Softball - Awkward and Depressed (Cover Artwork)

Canadian Softball

Awkward and Depressed (2017)

Chodezilla Records

I’ve been a fan of YouTube comedian Jarrod Alonge’s musical endeavors ever since his 2015 debut, Beating a Dead Horse, in which he took the shit out of everything from math rock to crunkcore under a myriad of aliases. Last year he went on to release full projects devoted to his pop punk and metalcore bands (Sunrise Skater Kids and Amidst the Grave’s Demons respectively), before entering a state of studio silence until earlier this year when he announced plans for a full length of his parody emo band, Canadian Softball.
I was especially excited for this new Canadian Softball release in lieu of Jarrod's antecedent livestreams, in which he mentioned influence from early emotive hardcore acts like Embrace and Rites of Spring. Unfortunately, the only trace of these bands in the final product seems to be brief lyrical references to their names on the mashup, "Ohio is for Emo Kids". Instead, Awkward and Depressed primarily focuses on sound of the emo revival. There's emphasis on reverb-drenched, technically intricate guitar passages for most of the tracklist. I honestly can't say I'm incredibly familiar with most of the bands this album attempts to sonically reference, but my faulty expectations of the record's substance should in no way affect my opinion of its qualitative merits. There's a little something for everyone here, and while I wasn't able to identify all of the bands from which Jarrod pulled influence from, I appreciated tracks like the American Football influenced "Mathematical" and the not-too-subtly titled "Your Validation", with the nostalgia-driven lyrical content of Modern Baseball.

Because emo is a genre that typically takes a more reserved or poetic approach to lyrics than pop punk or metalcore, Jarrod's lyrics tend to be a lot less straightforward, but I feel like this restriction provides him opportunity to showcase his comedic wit. The humor on Awkward and Depressed tends to be more subtle and nuanced, such as “Mumble”, an incomprehensible piece of ambient work masking line after line of communist propaganda, or “Cut the Cord”, which features Cam Smith of Hotel Books delivering a heartfelt request to discontinue his cable services with Comcast. Jarrod also finds comedy in applying the emo architype to various nonemo situations like on “United We Skramz” which is a screamo track from the perspective of Donald Trump. The contrast of the generally self-centered nature of emo and large scale political issues is a comedic device Jarrod utilizes to its fullest on Awkward and Depressed.

I don't want to give away too much about this Awkward and Depressed since it is a comedy album, and I don't want to spoil all the jokes, but I'd like to address the cover of Sunny Day Real Estate's “Seven”, because its inclusion in the tracklist has quite a few interesting implications. Jarrod has never included a cover on any of his previous releases (with the exception of his work in CrazyEightyEight), but this Sunny Day Real Estate cover seems to have more of a practical purpose in counterbalancing his portrayal of emo in “Ohio is for Emo Kids”. While Jarrod has previously stated that he is a fan of bands like My Chemical Romance and Taking Back Sunday this cover separates him from the character portrayed in the medley who specifically states “I'm not a fan of Sunny Day”. I find the fact that he has to somehow prove his emo legitimacy somewhat ironic, given that the purpose of this medley along with the closer, “Pink Wednesday”, is to call out some of the elitist gatekeepers of the scene. While I'm not a huge fan of any of the bands in this medley myself, the mall goth era was undeniably a piece of emo history. It was obligatory that Jarrod at least make reference to its impact and “Seven” acts as damage control for some of the hate he might have otherwise received for doing so.

There's so much more to love about this debut full length from Canadian Softball, but this is an album you really just have to experience for yourself. If you're a fan of the current ensemble of emo revival acts or any of Jarrod's previous comedic endeavors, Awkward and Depressed is an essential listen.