I was fully prepared to dislike this. However, the ancient maxim, “never judge a band by its name” came firmly into play with Grade. Following in the illustrious footsteps of tremendous yet poorly named acts such as Avail and Lifetime, as well as the more interestingly monikered Archers of Loaf and Drive Like Jehu, Grade combine the elements of both aggression and melody, and pull it off very well, which is a rarity since it is so hard to do convincingly.
These kids can write a catchy, melodic song; a talent sorely needed in much of today’s hardcore scene (and overly-prevalent with sub-par emo groups). Grade step into the arena and take the most appreciated elements of these loosely defined genres and turn it into something that is toe-tappingly sincere. You’ve got enough screamy vocals and breakdowns to satiate Joey HC, and a sufficient amount of savvy lyrics about girls and failed relationships to well up large tears in emo boy’s tortoise-shell glasses.
Although, judging by the CD booklet’s photos, the band seems to sport the standard-issue wife-beater and baseball cap Victory attire, the label has found something in this little band that plays a style of music catchy and attainable yet uncompromising and honest. It did take me repeated listens to fully appreciate this record, as I was not familiar with Grade or any of their other material previous to hearing Under the Radar, but after letting it soak into my cranium, it seems to me that the band have re-instilled a glimmer of hope for rock ‘n’ roll.
// Notes from the Road
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