We know it would take far too long to highlight every client’s new release each week, so we’re going to choose a few select titles each week that we feel everyone should support. These are albums we will be buying ourselves, and we hope at the very least you give them a proper spin before deciding to purchase something else. James may write the column, but everyone at Haulix will have a say in who gets chosen.
When I first discovered punk music I thought I had finally found my true home. The house I shared with my parents and our pets was nice, and I knew I would always be welcomed there, but the punk community allowed me the opportunity to fully express myself in a place where I felt free from criticism and backlash. I could be anyone I wanted to be as long as whoever I became was not an asshole or someone who made it their mission to tear others down, and in my opinion those rules were easy to follow.
As my involvement in my local music scene began to develop, I found myself believing more and more that it was my responsibility to ensure the punk community that first embraced me continued to thrive so future generations could find a similar safe place for self-expression. The older I get the more I realize it was around that same time I dedicated my life to music. I don’t know that I ever felt like my own person until I was a part of the music community, but I knew as soon as I felt like I could be anyone or anything I wanted that I needed to share that sense of freedom with everyone I was able. This was the motivation behind my desire to start promoting shows while still in high school, which lead to promoting record labels and hosting a radio show in college. From there, I launched a music blog and eventually a record label of my own, all because I wanted to ensure there was some semblance of the music community I loved still around when my kids were old enough to discover alternative music.
Then something started to change within me, and it continues to evolve to this day. Around the time I hit 26 I began to realize I had spent a decade in a scene built on the false promise of eternal youth. While I toiled away trying to make the artists I cared about into major stars my peers began settling into reliable careers, getting married, having kids, and generally going through the motions of become ‘normal adults.’ I felt as young as ever, but the face staring back at me in the mirror spoke of many miles journeyed and many late nights without sleep. While others had sacrificed whatever selfish desires they had in lieu of more common lifestyles, I had forged ahead with a passion for cultivating a friendly community of creative minds, and I believed it was my mission to do so as long as I was able.
What I didn’t admit to myself at that time, but now know all too well, is that no one man is an army. I wanted to be a savior for a scene that didn’t need saving, or at least not saving in the way I thought was necessary. I thought if I stopped caring about punk or the punk community that it would somehow disappear. As if the decades of community and culture that existed before I discovered punk was somehow not enough to sustain if I were not also active in the scene. The truth is, and forever shall continue to be, that I am just one cog in very large machine. I have a role to play in the continued celebration of punk culture, just like you, but there is no need for me to feel as if it will live or die by my actions alone. There are literally thousands of people carrying the torch for the punk community, including one young band who are so good I no longer worry about whether or not young people will find a community of acceptance like the one I once knew. They’re called Neck Deep, and today their new album Life’s Not Out To Get You arrives in stores.
I won’t go into all the reasons Life’s Not Out To Get You is a special release because there are countless reviews circulating online that will provide you with that information. What I will say, and this is not something I often express, is that Neck Deep are the latest torch carrying heroes of pop punk. Like The Wonder Years or Blink-182 before them, Neck Deep have found a way to connect with an entire new generation of music fans around the globe through honest and direct lyricism that cuts through the bullshit of everyday life and examines the true human experience. They write about life, love, loss, and their hometown, which like every hometown is a place beginning to be left, and people hang on every line as if its red-lettered text from the Bible. To some, maybe it is.
When I first heard of Neck Deep I expected them to be like every other pop punk band that has risen to prominence in recent years, which is to say I thought they would be good, but not necessarily all the memorable. Life’s Not Out To Get You proves they are more than that however, and in fact the album makes a strong argument for the group to be claimed the young kinds of the modern pop punk scene. I don’t necessarily relate to every line they utter, but I don’t know that I’m supposed to at this point in my life. There is an aesthetic to the punk community I will always connect with, but that doesn’t mean I will forever relate to talk of break ups and wanting to find something more than whatever you’ve known in life. I’ve been places, seen things, and lived through experiences I will probably never hear mirrored in song, but that doesn’t mean I won’t connect with music ever again. Whenever I hear someone being truly themselves I feel inspired to do the same, and as far as I am concerned there are few, if any, bands in pop punk right now as authentic or infectious as Neck Deep.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him onTwitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.