Good Luck Varsity: Mountains

good-luck-varsity-mountains-reviewThoughts of what the rest of my week should consist of are running through my mind as 1am nears. By the time this review goes up I should have a new tattoo and freshly printed papers to highlight and make sense of. Well if things go as planned and I can construct something out of the notes I’ve taken on Good Luck Varsity’s Mountains, I will be able to rest easier tonight and put more ink on my body.

At first I thought Good Luck Varsity might’ve been my age or a bit older when “Firstborn” started. The vocals reminded me of Dave Grohl at times. The aged sound was the kind you’d hear when struggling to find something on your AMFM dial. Then came “Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose” and their style took a youthful turn with the help of catchy choruses and a hook that was supported by the power of “gun powder.” The oddball of the three happened to be the last one, “Rewind.” It was calmer than the others and made me think I was listening to a whole other band because it seemed a bit peppier than the rest.

It’s nearly 1am and I’m 80% sure I’ll leave the confines of this apartment to get my latest tattoo and use the library printers, but I’m 100% sure that if you’re a fan of bands like PK and Anberlin, you’ll like Good Luck Varsity’s Mountains. People who are looking to get an actual copy of Mountains, only 300 physical copies were made; 150 CDs and 150 cassettes (digital copy comes with). Those are only available at shows and good news, Good Luck Varsity will be touring starting January 12th through the 31st and they also have a healthy amount of dates in February as well. No worries if you can’t make it out, Mountains is ready for you in a more instant way right now.

PK: From “London” to Local

It’s interesting to watch a band progress, to see dudes adjust to different settings whether they’re historical, recreational, or locally established. I have been more than fortunate to see the members of PK play in a variety of situations. Just this past year I’ve followed them, not merely on Twitter, but to The Roxy, to Fandango’s Eat|See|Hear, and more recently, on Saturday night to Canoga Park’s Guitar Merchant.

Guitar Merchant is not a venue Golden Mixtape is unfamiliar to. It’s an intimate establishment where locals can book events if they can manage to convince 18 people to show up for their gig. Fortunately for PK, more than this number came to partake in what I felt was the coziest show I’ve experienced in months. Unlike in September, where I attended Fandango’s event strictly as a fan, PK was not the only musician booked to delight a small audience that varied in age. Prior to playing, the stage was graced by Leaving Austin and Winston.

If the Guitar Merchant hadn’t already been heated (this is the first time I have ever sweated in a venue without having to do much moving) PK made the room even hotter. You can insert some filler comments about their charming boyish faces, but I’m more driven by the music they perform. Put this band in any scenario, and people gravitate towards them. It’s not that hard to cut your friend off from talking when a bass riff, like the one in “Beware the Moors!,” rolls into your ears. It’s a deep energetic thumping that accelerates your heart rate and makes those tapping toes evolve into swaying hips.

Of course, aside from guitarist Nick Fotinakes outing singer Travis Hawley’s birthday (he’s officially 19, now!*), my favorite moments were those between the lead and his fans. I’ve experienced Hawley pass out high-fives, but there is something special about sharing the mic with the audience, as well as eye contact. Connection, more than technologically speaking, is incredibly important because it makes show-going more personable and well…special. When jams like “1920” and “Berelain” came over the speaker, fans were eager to sing it all back to the band.

There was a slightly silent moment when PK performed a new tune. But it wasn’t that awkward kind of impatience where you’re dying to have a song end because all you want to do is press fast forward and sing the “hits.” Perhaps this is my morbid mind thinking here, but how is it that a song that is thematically centered on the living dead and vampires not interesting? Maybe I’ve turned you off at the mention of those glorified bloodsuckers, but there was nothing Twilight about it. Tonally speaking, it is not Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” However, although most seasonal songs are remotely Hallmark, the way it was played transcended this track beyond the standard black and orange of Halloween.

Whether or not you were singing, or dancing, you were certainly doing a lot of clapping. I’m not sure if it was by ingenious design, but have another listen to PK’s albums and you’ll spot those moments where you can surely bet that your hands will meet.

Sadly, like all great nights, mine came to a close with PK, but not before they played “London” and “Chase the Sky.” Despite that the set was short, I definitely left that venue elated and proud. Again, to see a band progress in a just a few short months is noteworthy, especially because as live musicians, they are always on point. Their energy and passion for what they do comes through in their stage presence.

PK is now on touring various parts of California (Nevada and Arizona, you got a date with them, too!), so be sure to click here to find a venue near you. Also, see if you can’t catch the video for “Some Nights” on mtvU.

*Don’t quote me on that. Really.