It’s been a crazy day. I’ve logged off my work computer and moved the six feet from my work-from-home set up to my recliner (living the dad-life). I texted my kid asking to bring me a cold drink from the kitchen as I opened up the email with the advance of the new album from Latewaves, Hell to Pay, set to be released on Friday June 4, 2021 via Know Hope Records.
After releasing a number of EPs, Hell to Pay is Latewaves first full length release. The trio from New Jersey is made up of Shawna Grabowski on drums, Mike Pellegrino on guitar and vocals, and Howie Cohen on bass and vocals.
Not knowing exactly what to expect, I sat back ready for whatever came out of my speakers. The opening track, “Extra Pale” starts with a solid guitar riff for a few bars before the drums and bass announce their presence. The vocals are strong with some great harmonies. This band is tight!
The second track, “Stroke of Luck (How Long),” really struck a chord with me. Sometimes things get overwhelming and tough to deal with — this song talks about the struggles people face in their daily lives, putting on a brave face and a good show while crumbling on the inside. The line, “I’m so far from alright and that’s okay,” isn’t so much of a confession or apology; it’s a fuck-you to feelings of anxiety and such. I get the feeling that the vocalist isn’t trying to make excuses or make themselves feel better with a condescending ‘that’s okay honey’-type sentiment. They’re empowering themselves by recognizing it’s okay to not be okay; and they will do their best to truly get better.
“Enough is Enough,” the first pre-released single from the album, continues the self-reflection and finding strength to fight one’s own demons. The melodies and harmonies make the song exciting to listen to. Mental health and wellness is a topic on many people’s radar these days — Latewaves is doing an amazing service to anyone who listens to this album, baring their souls, admitting they’ve had some troubling times and know that it will get better. I’m hoping these songs will help at least one person see through the darkness and give them the hope and strength that things will get better.
“I’m Alright” talks about the process of getting oneself on the road to recovery; deciding it’s time to start doing things with lyrcs “This pile of laundry ain’t gonna fold itself,” stop self-medicating with “That half-drunk bottle goes back on the shelf” and seeking the help they need with “It may not be worth it, it may not be perfect, but I’m alright”.
“Acting Out” is a song that I’m going to add to my teenage daughter’s playlist. It addresses universal feelings of social anxiety and trying to overcome shyness and insecurities. The album closes out with the title track possessing a change of pace from the rest of the album. The first minute and a half is Pellegrino singing along with his guitar; Grabowski and Cohen come in for the second half of the song adding some beautiful harmonies.
Latewaves swung for the fences with their first full-length album and managed to hit it out of the park. I’m hoping the album finds its way to a local record store because I need it in my collection (sorry Know Hope Records and Latewaves, but shipping costs from the States to Canada push too many amazing records out of my budget).