The Raging Nathans - Waste My Heart (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Raging Nathans

Waste My Heart (2021)

Rad Girlfriend Records

The Raging Nathans attack their musical career with an undeniable chip on their shoulder. Like a lot of Midwesterners, the Dayton quartet fully intend to overcome their geographical disadvantages through hard work. In 2020, the Dayton quartet released a well received full length, their third overall, splits with Dead Bars, The Reaganomics and Starter Jackets, and a live EP. All that during the plague! If any band deserved to take a rest in 2021, it would be The Raging Nathans. Meanwhile, here comes Waste My Heart.

Last year’s Oppositional Defiance showed the Nathans taking a significant step forward in terms of songwriting. The fear in them following it up so quickly would have to be that they wouldn’t be able to sustain that upward trajectory. That quantity would replace quality, and the material would get watered down. The truth is, Waste My Heart isn’t better or worse as much as it’s just different. It feels like a counterpart to Oppositional Defiance. While plenty of the 12 tracks are fast and tough, others are more melodic and vulnerable. In general, they are slightly less aggressive and more sincere. They are still deeply personal, but getting more political with each subsequent release.

The title track starts things off, and its message is a powerful one. The main idea being that we only have so much heart to give and shouldn’t waste it on people or causes that aren’t worthy of it. “I Could Never Fall In Love with You” might be the poppiest thing the band has ever done. Luke McNeil (The Copyrights) handles the production on Waste My Heart. For better or worse, depending on your personal preference, it’s really slick sounding. The songs also feel a bit more fleshed out than on previous records. Half the tracks pass the three minute mark, and a few others are close.

There are quite a few other standouts, and there isn’t really a bad track. “Remember” incorporates some new sounds and could be a radio hit in some parallel universe. The guitar sounds push the band’s previous limits. Ditto “Cemetery Drive”. Maybe it’s the McNeil influence, but the songs seem to pay attention to the right small details. There’s a great one two punch to close the album. “Shadow of Youth” is the angriest punk song on Waste My Heart, and leads right into the excellent “Beginning of the End”. The Nathans continue their trend of ending their records with a banger.

Ultimately, Waste My Heart feels like the natural evolution of a band who’s firing on all cylinders. Time will tell whether it’s a new direction entirely or temporary sidetrack. Either way, the frequent releases haven’t dulled the creative blade, but rather they have sharpened the songwriting sword. Through their tireless effort and sheer force of will, The Raging Nathans continue to prove that they’re one the most important bands in the current punk landscape.