By Paul Knettel
Interested in hearing some great free music Friday?Â Â Â Â Then you should head out to 1142 Washington Blvd. this Friday night at 9 p.m., where Swing the Lead will play a
basement show in support of the release of its debut album, Beginnings. Swing the Lead, a local band made up of four ACU students and fronted by Stephen Munoz, will be joined by another Abilene band, Close Your Eyes, in what promises to be a fun, exciting and entertaining show.
Beginnings, an aptly titled first album for the band, is a collection of nine energetic punk rock songs in the vein of early Brand New or Taking Back Sunday. Recorded by Mason Shirley, an ACU student who does recordings and live sound, the album is overall a solid debut effort by Swing the Lead. The track titles are of the typical witty-punk breed, such as Your Handwriting Smells Fishy and Your Boat Shoes Got Nothing on Me.
The music is full of fast, engaging guitar riffs played by lead guitarist Zak Zeinert, driving beats and dynamic drum fills provided by Andy Munoz and catchy vocal hooks sung by Munoz and bassist Matt Tate. The vocals are enthusiastic and include some nice harmonies, such as on the chorus to the song Kings. Some songs employ split vocal parts, where two different things are sung at the same time, and the song Kids from the Underground features a compelling shout chorus, where the whole band shouts responses to Munoz’s vocal lines.
The album includes two versions of the song I Won’t be There: the normal full band version and an acoustic version that features electronic drums and bass, a synth part and even a piano in the background during the chorus. The acoustic version is somewhat a departure from the rest of the band’s songs, but I like the ideas it puts together for the tune. The last song, Pain Heals, Chicks Dig Scars, and Glory Lives Forever, is another acoustic song and is a simple, hopeful track that contains some of Munoz’s finest vocals.
Although this is a good first album, it feels like some of the energy of Swing the Lead’s live show has been lost in the recordings. This often happens with the style of music the band plays, simply because the intensity of its live shows is difficult to imitate in a recording. That being said, you should go see the band live because its members put on exciting and fun shows that get the audience singing, clapping and even dancing, as the band jumps around on stage and generally rocks out. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of Beginnings because it is a strong debut for Swing the Lead; besides, supporting local bands is important and helps keep good, authentic music alive. To hear some of Swing the Lead’s music, visit its Myspace page: myspace.com/swingtheleadmusic.