By Sean McCall | Posted Thursday, September 20, 2018
Aw Shucks is an indie rock band from South Jersey and Delaware County. The band consists of Dylan Walker (vocals/guitar), (former member) Jarrett Wenzel (vocals/guitar), Jack Meidel (bass/production), and Chris Kearney (Drums/vocals). Their first EP is the “Better Now EP” which was released in October of 2017. This record was recorded by their bassist, Jack, and mixed by the band. Better Now was mastered by James Forbes (Fine Cut Studios), and the artwork was done by Austin Pettit.
The record opens up with a song “Elizabeth Cranford,” which introduces Jarrett Wenzel and a hot clean guitar tone. This song is 5 minutes long, but doesn’t ever drag because it's packed with hooks, instrumentation, and tempo changes that keep you on the edge of your seat. The lyrical content of the song deals with going through a tough breakup with somebody you love and can’t help to still be in love, so naturally, it’s a super emotional song that still gives the listener a feeling of hopefulness with the way the music is portrayed.
The second song, “Pawn,” switches over to an immediate head-bopping vibe. It also switches to their other vocalist, Dylan Walker. I really love how they incorporate their strengths as songwriters/singer and go back and forth on who’s singing on which songs. In my opinion, this is one of my favorite songs. There’s a beautiful change at the end of the song when Aw Shucks sings “is that how this ends, with you leaving me, useless and gone,” where they just go off. The rhythmic change is super tasteful after the entire song already being catchy. I also like the idea of extending the chorus of the song towards the end.
The third track, “Swaying Flowers,” has one of my favorite instrumental hooks ever. The song opens with that which is essentially the chorus in my opinion. It’s subtly mathy and very tasteful. This is also the track where they say the EP’s title in the lyrics, so you know it’s gotta be a bop. This song seems to deal with the hardships of being stuck inside your own head, and not being content with where you are.
The fourth song, “Backroads,” switches back to Jarrett being the primary singer, and he doesn’t fail to pull at my heartstrings again. This song seems to be discussing making the mistake of driving home drunk, and those irrational intoxicated feelings on top of dealing with personal mental health. A lot of the song is talking about wishing death amongst yourself, which seems to be an impulsive feeling when you’re at your lowest of lows. What I love about this song is the dynamics throughout -- especially the ending which says, “I have far too much in me to watch it end like this.” He changes the mood and mentality to something positive and optimistic regarding self-health.
The fifth song, “Oh Sheesh” (by Aw Shucks — that shit made me laugh) seems to be dealing with putting up with somebody who is bringing negativity into your life; the idea of wasting your time on someone you should have never given your time to in the first place. I love this song’s instrumentation. There’s a lot happening dynamically and a lot of tasteful changes throughout the song.
The last song on the record, “Signals,” is my personal favorite.V Dylan wrote a simple and melodically catchy song with an assortment of dynamics. The lyrics talk about the hardships of being in love in a struggling relationship. It combines memories, reminiscing, past, and future of moments with somebody who is held close to his heart. My favorite line is “...but I swam to the depths of the sea, ‘cause I know that you are safe with me. All I did was dream of what could be, but now I can barely fall asleep.” These lines are super relatable to something I’ve gone through personally, and I feel as though a lot of people have had their own similar situations themselves. What I love about this song is the way you can hear the emotion portrayed in the vocals.
Overall, I think Better Now was an absolutely amazing and impressive record to introduce themselves to the world. I really hope this band gets the recognition they deserve sooner rather than later, because this is not a band to sleep on. On top of that, they are all wonderful musicians as well as people. If you haven’t gotten the chance to, I strongly suggest you get out to a show and try to catch these guys live. The record is recorded beautifully, but I think they portray themselves even better live.
Check out their second EP, Big Plans, release show here: