Punk Rock. The genre name immediately brings up images of mohawked, nose-pierced young adults slamming out power chords at many miles an hour, with profanity-laced lyrics that don’t quite make sense half the time. The genre has been disregarded repeatedly by the rock-worshipping listeners with “sophisticated tastes” as sounding all the same, being immature, being repetitive, etc. Regardless, term ‘punk’ leads to the question – Is punk defined by the actual, fuzzily-defined musical differences or by the appearance of its members and the lyrics they write? And what if we added the term “Christian” to the equation punk. Using that term, would people raise eyebrows and question “how?” and “why?”
Whatever the answers, CollegeKidz42 prove to be a talented duo of musicians with punk roots and, a sometimes harder rock, or indie sound. At the heart of the chugging guitars, found on their album, “Share With The Class”, are morally rooted lyrics that the band seems to write to young adults taken from personal experiences. All in all, you can’t argue that CollegeKidz42 are unique, both lyrically and musically, from similar bands.
But Christian Joseph Allbee (vocals, bass, synths, ukulele) and Jon Hare (guitars, drums, vocals) don’t just write and play their own original songs they also have the audacity to cover songs from other punk, rock or metal bands with Christian roots, in their own peculiar way. One minute you can hear them do a rendition of “Those Nights” by Skillet, the next they’re power-riffing out to “God Forsaken” by Demon Hunter. And when you least expect it, you can hear left-field versions of “I Surrender All” by Cece Winans or “At Your Name” by Phil Wickham. Of course I expected “College Kids” by Relient K, but not dressed in these clothes.
You see, even when they’re doing covers, CollegeKidz42 are original, their cover versions may stick to the original melodies and chord progressions, but the arrangements are totally their own. So if you’re thinking of hearing more of the same with these covers, think again. CollegeKidz42 have a warm and humble organic sound, which is almost underwhelming in certain circumstances. The vocals never rise into a shout or scream, always maintaining a level-headedness intent on letting you hear the lyrics, above all else.
The melodies too, are treated similarly. Everything is kept sweet and simple, without unnecessary embellishments. Some songs are even turned down a couple of tones. To allow an easy listening experience from the vocals. The crunchy, overdriven guitars are about the only elements that take the liberty to drive really hard on the occasion, as can be heard on the power tracks, “God Forsaken”, “Those Nights” or “Mighty To Save”.
CollegeKidz42’s original songs have a fair amount of melody injected into them, and it would not be hard to singalong to “Revivify” or “You, Not I”. And while you’re at it, you can even groove along to the Ska-influenced beat of “Not Alone”. Of course the most surprising thing is, that the duo only launched CollegeKidz42 in 2016, and in the same year released their debut EP titled “Hit The Book!” They have now followed that up with their first full-length album, “Share With The Class”.
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