If there was ever a current band that reflects just what my childhood sounded like, and by childhood I mean when I was 12, it would be Nominee. To put it into simple terms: Nominee’s I Woke Up sounds like Jimmy Eat World’s Invented meets Anberlin’s Cities meets Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends meets Brand New’s The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me. Not only does this sound like the musical equivalent of a 12 year old emo kid’s wet dream, but it was also produced by Joe Milligan of Anberlin, and mastered by Paul Leavitt (The Used, Hit The Lights, Yellowcard, Senses Fail).
Nominee is filled with that same grittiness that was such a common thing, that made many of the old school alternative rock bands borderline emo bands, and the slightly less aggressive side of post-hardcore, except none of the bands wore enough make-up to be emo, nor were whiny enough or easily confused with young girls to be considered a part of the post-hardcore scene at the time. Disclaimer: I am utterly besotted with the post-hardcore scene.
Not only is the album gritty, but it is also irresistibly catchy. Amidst all the grittiness, there are well-polished hooks, soaring melodies, and well-written lyrics. The album is rather like that battered and dog-eared novel that you read each year because it is simply impossible not to reread it. It has that battered-and-worn feel to it, as if extremely large amounts of energy, dedication and love had been sunk into the album. This gives I Woke Up a sense of character that many albums seem to lack these days.
I Woke Up may only be a seven-track album that adds up to a playback time of 28 minutes, but in that short amount of time, it grabs your attention and ensures that you steadily focus on the album for just under half an hour of your life. You’re hit with a subtle blend of anthemic pop-punk and the piercing angst and raw emotion of a Long Island emo band. You’re hit with an album that is all about overcoming adversity and starting at rock bottom and being at a point where life does not feel worth living. It is also an album that embraces a hopeful attitude as it also deals with sticking together as a band and overcoming all problems together.
“Requiem” opens the album with a sound that is halfway between angst-driven post-hardcore and the infectious catchiness of pop-punk. Frontman Chris Mclelland delivers lyrics about striving to be a man just like his father. It is a touching song that highlights the love he has for his father and how that love influenced him in his life. “Without You in Front of Me” deals with the theme of sticking with one’s band through thick and thin. I Woke Up is packed with songs just like these, where the sound sits between pop-punk and post-hardcore. It sounds brilliant, and makes Nominee a band to watch next year, as they could possibly make it big, especially considering that they are opening for Anberlin on the Austin date of their final tour on 23 October.