“While I’m Away” Music Review

James, bass player, While I’m Away

Hilliard’s music future is looking bright. Many alternative bands are forming and rocking out their head banging, hot wheel fast, songs that your grandma hates. Amongst these bands are the highly decorated “While I’m Away.” They formed in 2018 and went on to play at the Rock N’ Roll Hall Of Fame, made it to the Groove U band competition finals, and release 1 album and 1 ep. Not bad for the stereotypical “high school band.” What wizardry is this? Whose soul did they sell to achieve playing at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame” before they can even buy lighters at a grocery store? Part of the answer to that is that their pop punk, in your face disgrace songs relate very much to their young audience with their lyrics of broken romance and mood swing chord progressions. One example to this would be their single, “Cuts.” It was often called one of their best songs out there but I’m not here to prove that point. I’m here to be the most judgmental person I can be about a little punk rock song.

  The beginning of this journey called “Cuts” starts with loud, overcranked, distorted guitar playing the riff that the song revolves around. I love it already. The riff continues as the drums begin to build up and BAM! All 3 musketeers in the band started jamming out, still following the riff since the beginning. The drumming in the beginning gives the song a firework display for the masses. Beats 1 and 2 lands every harsh punch to the listeners face and right when they’re close to tapping out , beats 3 and 4 comes back and adds a hopeful yet fast glimmer of light for the audience by building up the exciting chord profession. After a while however, the chord progression gets repetitive as the intro, verse, and chorus share the same 4 chords that once led the audience to  headbang to a headache to sigh and skip the song . 

  The verses are a fantastic display of dead end romance and poetry by lead songwriter, Wes Vela. Lyrics like ,”broken in two, you said I can’t blame you,” and “You’re happy I’m here all by myself, and when you left me on the shelf..to take over , my body and my mind,” captures  the harsh reality of a high school break up, creating a relatable moment between Wes and the listeners. 

   When asked about the lyrics, music lover, Gavin Payne, says he, “ find the lyrics very metaphorical” and “captures the perfect moment of a teenage heartbreak.” The audience connects with the lyrics in an emotional level, making it a more memorable piece of music. 

   As a guitarist myself, I couldn’t help but crank the volume on those guitar solos! Wes did a very good job of not trying to shred when it’s not necessary and creating two guitar pieces that fit the cloudy day emotion of the song. Solo two especially has a very triumphant thrill that does an extraordinary job of being the song ending and leaving the audience with a hopeful feeling in their guts and hopefully a smile on their faces. 

   The final verdict? “Cuts” is not what you expect from a high school band. It’s a catchy, long and poetic song. The genuine lyrics and grunge like sound makes this song a throwback to the days of the “Sex Pistols” and “Nirvana.” However, just because their songs sounds like those days doesn’t mean they are the “Sex Pistols” and “Nirvana.” The repetitive guitar parts and the empty sounding pieces leaves space for improvement. In conclusion, I see these being improved in the future and I’m honored to say that “While I’m Away” is one of the many bands that could possibly shape the next generation of punk rock.