The Newks - Grandfathers
Released September 9, 2014
By Charlie Dims
The Newks is an interesting band. At first glance, things are a little unclear. The title of their debut EP Grandfathers could suggest that their members consist of men in their twilight years reminiscing about past adventures. Or the cover of their new record, which features a conservatively dressed, silver-haired man wearing the band’s name on his black beanie while a Christmas tree hangs in the background, perhaps implies that this is a holiday album released a little too early in the year. Neither of these assumptions are true. The Newks consists of Jordan Garcha (drums), Charlie Tucker (lead guitar), Austin Axenty (rhythm guitar and lead singer), and Douglas Canning (bass), all four of which are nowhere near old enough to be retiring on the rocking chairs. The EP also has nothing to do with Christmas, unless your Christmas is filled with raw emotion, short-lived relationships, equal measures of memory and heartbreak, and great work on the guitar and drums.
So what exactly is their EP about? Like many great artists before them, they are hard to put into a box when it comes to their sound and vision. Within the five songs on their EP, The Newks go through a variety of different musical genres and sounds. While such flexibility within one record can sometimes prevent a band from honing in on a sound that is uniquely theirs, The Newks manage to avoid this pitfall by never submitting themselves fully to one genre, letting their core sonic identity always comes out on top.
Take the excellent song Goodbye Juliana. Throughout the track, Austin Axenty’s booming vocals rest somewhere between the styles of a hard rocker and a pissed off country singer. The lyrics tell Juliana “we hope to see you soon”, but the music itself seems to dance around an energized sense of relief at the woman’s departure, making the lyrics seem more ironic than sincere.
Or take the track Afternoon, which—while it still has a certain rock undertone, particularly in the excellent guitar solos—carries itself in a much more lighthearted way than one might expect. The tone, of course, fits perfectly with the story of meeting a glorious woman on a glorious afternoon.
The Newks even manage to tackle pop in their closing track Pop Song #47. Luckily for us, this is not the type of slickly polished song you’re likely to hear on today’s pop charts, as the four band members express far too much raw emotion than what is allowed in today’s pop climate. And, because of this, the song is a perfect example of the group’s power. Despite having some nice hooks, it is clear that The Newks are not here to get #1 singles, but to express the emotions we’ve all felt and love to hear interpreted from artists. The Newks know what real music is—and they have an EP to prove it.