The DePaulia

Jeff Rosenstock carries us into 2018

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Rosenstock's sixth independent album, POST-, was released on New Year's Day. 
(Photo courtesy of Jeff Rosenstock)

Rosenstock's sixth independent album, POST-, was released on New Year's Day. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Rosenstock)

Rosenstock's sixth independent album, POST-, was released on New Year's Day. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Rosenstock)

Marty O'Connell, Contributing Writer

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Not many people would release a new album early morning on New Years’ Day, with no prior press or announcement. Even fewer people would release that album for free. Out of that small bubble of people, one of them is named Jeff Rosenstock. The Long Island musician and former Bomb The Music Industry! frontman has always been passionate about not adhering to industry standards, favoring the DIY ethos of the punk scenes he grew up in. Through his new album POST-, Rosenstock offers up a message of hope after a cruel and exhausting year.

The previous record from Rosenstock, 2016’s WORRY., was full of catchy sing-alongs and fast punk tracks that dealt with heavy matters, such as police brutality, gentrification, harmful social media side effects and death. That album was released weeks before the 2016 presidential election, and seemed to address some fears Rosenstock had about the state of the country before the election actually happened. Now, over a year later, another batch of songs has arrived. Rosenstock and his band (John DeDomenici on bass, Mike Huguenor on guitar, Kevin Higuchi on drums and Dan Potthast on the lap steel guitar) maintain the classic feel of his music while still adding new elements, like a higher presence of synths, to make these songs unique. Chris Farren and Laura Stevenson pop up on guest vocals as well, refreshing songs like “TV Stars” and “9/10” All of these songs seem to focus on the aftermath and the big question: what do we do now?

The first full song on the album (after a six-second intro message), “USA” opens on what could be described as the morning after a disastrous event, with Rosenstock feeling “crestfallen, grief-stricken and exhausted.” Featuring a synth breakdown and a well-timed cowbell, this sprawling seven-minute track builds up to a recurring chorus of “You promised us the stars and now we’re tired and bored,” a notion that plenty of young adults in America can identify with.

“Yr Throat”, one of the catchiest songs on the record, sees Rosenstock detailing his inner thoughts of “first person shooter games, guitar tones, ELO arrangements, the differences in an MP3 and a vinyl record.” “All This Useless Energy” and “Powerlessness” deal with feelings of focusing towards what’s most important and feeling helpless in a society surrounded by struggle.

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By the time you reach the halfway point of POST-, “TV Stars” can feel like a break in the action. It’s a slower-paced song, almost deserving of a slow dance (as opposed to a song meant for the mosh pit). The lyrics could be read to make something of a love song, as they detail how hard it is to imagine a significant other with someone else. “Melba” and “Beating My Head Against A Wall” bring the party back, two tracks that transition smoothly one into the next similar to the eight-song closing medley on WORRY. “9/10,” which cleverly placed as the ninth song on the 10-track album, details a life of loneliness and boredom on the subway.

POST- closes with “Let Them Win”, arguably the masterpiece of the album. The song clocks in at 11 minutes and 10 seconds, culminating around the halfway point with a massive guitar solo followed by a five-minute ambient synth outro. Not only does this track solidify Rosenstock’s place as one of the most ambitious artists in modern rock, but it wraps up the album with a uplifting note. The song is a message of empowerment, reaffirming that no matter what “they” can do, “we’re not gonna let them win.” If POST- is a character we follow throughout the 41-minute run time, we watch it go from “downtrodden and dejected” to determined and dauntless. Because of Rosenstock’s honest and authentic lyricism, by the time the album ends, you feel just as hopeful for the future too.

Seeing authentic artists like Jeff Rosenstock succeed in today’s scary world is proof that sometimes, good guys do win. He’s been a inspiration force in punk scenes everywhere for years, constantly embracing and preaching the DIY ethos he discovered as a kid in Long Island. Having an artist like that receive critical praise from publications like Pitchfork and Stereogum is huge for punk kids. The punk ideals that people in this scene believe in are validated by watching the underdog play a stage as big as Pitchfork Music Festival (and reveal how much the fest paid him before launching into the capitalism-critical “Festival Song”). Because of this, with POST-, Jeff Rosenstock has already become one of the most important artists of 2018.

Jeff Rosenstock will be performing at Beat Kitchen with Martha and Bad Moves on April 26. Tickets are available now.

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