Welcome to “Bands C.J. likes,” a series in which I, C.J. Hellinger, will review a variety of obscure bands, and why I like them so much. There will be a new entry every few weeks, so be sure to check back every now and then! Without further ado, let me introduce you to The Frights.
The Frights are a surf punk rock band consisting of vocalist/guitarist Mike Carnevale, bassist Richard Dotson, drummer Marc Finn, guitarist Jordan Clark and former drummer Adam Lomnitzer. The founding members were Lomnitzer, Dotson and Carnevale, who were all high school friends.
The band was formed shortly after the boys finished high school as a simple time killer, but eventually separated when they went to college. Over winter break in 2012, they got back together and performed a show as a joke and expected to go their separate ways again afterwards. The guys were then approached by Joe Nammo, who would later release their debut project on his very own “Postmark” label. They released their extended play (EP) “Dead Beach” in March 2013. Three full-length albums have been released to date from the band, each with a different record label. Rather than going into a summary of the band’s history, allow me to outline a few songs that describe exactly why I love this band.
I was listening to a featured playlist on Spotify titled “Modern Rock,” and most of the songs were all right, but then I heard “You Are Going To Hate This.” It was the first song I heard from The Frights and I’ve been hooked ever since. It appears on The Frights’ second album “You Are Going To Hate This.” While it follows the structure of a pop song you’d find on some top charts, it sounds like a surf-rock song. This song in particular reminded me of Blink-182 at first because it felt like it referenced high school life, just like much of their album “Enema of the State.”
While I interpreted the song as a reference to conformity in adolescent years, it is really a song critiquing conformity within the music industry. This is especially evident in the first few lines of the song: “Why can’t I be like you? You say things that don’t make much sense. Like the drugs you did or the money you spent. Why can’t I be so cool,” Carnevale describes.
Many modern songs are about drugs and money, and it’s easy to see the sarcasm when The Frights ask why they can’t be as cool as all those really popular chart-toppers. The track also notes how stressful the music industry can be, “My heart breaks at the drop of a dime. And I freak out when I lose my mind. Why can’t I be like you,” Carnevale questions.
Obviously, this is saying how difficult it really is to try to fit into the modern music industry and how stressful it can be. However, the reason I liked the lyrics of this song in the first place was because they first reminded me of other songs that I truly enjoy.
“Over It” is a song from The Frights’ third and most recent album, “Hypochondriac.” While their previous album fell short in melodic diversity, this album makes up for it, especially in this song. Each verse seems to lead to a different structure that was not anticipated. The introduction of the song starts out with a loud bang that eventually leads to a pre-chorus. The pre-chorus is much lighter than the intro and comes as a nice surprise, while the chorus comes in with that hard rock sound you anticipate from the intro.
The lyrics follow a breakup archetype, but a few years after the breakup. The protagonist’s ex is trying to come back into a friendship, but he just isn’t having it. The lyrics are clearly evident of the exes much more positive emotions towards forming a friendship rather than the ones he has. “You seem to think that we’re more than this,” Carnevale sings. The protagonist of the song, however, still has conflict with the relationship. “We used to be something, I admit. Aren’t you over it? Aren’t you over it? I used to think we were over this,” Carnevale remarks. I usually get tired of hearing songs that talk about nothing but love, but this one provides a melody and song structure that I keep on coming back to. I honestly don’t think I will ever stop listening to this track.
Going back to their album “You Are Going To Hate This,” “Kids” is actually meant to describe adolescence, unlike the song “You Are Going To Hate This.” This song describes the young adult experience of going out into the world, and leaving the comfort of your parents. The chorus itself emphasizes the hateful feelings an adolescent can feel towards their parents. “Now, I hate my mom and dad,” Carnevale grunts. But just a couple lines later, he reveals how he really feels about his parents. “Now I, I miss my mom and dad,” Carnevale says.
The Frights were able to pack in a bit of relatable comedy with the lyrics, “I can make it on my own but I never needed this. Now I pay for insurance and I’m always getting sick,” Carnevale jokes. Adults are often mocked by children for obsessing over the costs of things like insurance and doctors. Now, Carnevale is realizing that he is turning into his parents. This song’s relatability to young adults, with its themes of relations with parents, makes it a song that everyone can enjoy.
Now, I know I said earlier that The Frights have released three full-length albums, but I’ve only covered songs from two of their albums. The truth is, I don’t really like the songs from their first album. I like their new sound more than their old sound, the new stuff is way more experimental and interesting. Go ahead and give The Frights a listen! Even though it’s a large departure from normal pop music on the radio, you might find something you can relate to and thoroughly enjoy.