(feat. track – “Born To Make Believe” [spotify])

Four Year Strong’s 2011 album In Some Way, Shape Or Form was a career-derailing radio-rock clusterfuck, a crassly commercial-minded, Dave Grohl-apeing* nonsensical tangent of an album from a band that had, until that point, been on a rocket ride as the leading light of the late-2000’s easycore wave. It was almost enough to write off the band entirely as having fatally succumbed to brass-ring-reaching, another Rise Against or Avenged Sevenfold (at least those guys got there).

Which is to say, I was totally not expecting this excellent, wide-ranging EP from The Here And Now, a one-man-band side project from Four Year Strong co-vocalist/guitarist Alan Day. Born to Make Believe Part 1 bounces, over the course of five tracks, from bummed-out country rock to acoustic angst to blown-out alternative, without pretense or calculation. When Day indulges his Foo-ier instincts, like on the title track or on closer “Numb Again” they’re tempered with doses of Zeppelinesque** bombast and colorful psych-rock swirls – the results are more earnest, less hamfisted than on In Some Way, Shape or Form. And when he leaves that formula behind on tracks like the ambling “Keep Me In Your Heart” (one of my favorite this year), the sincerity gleams irrepressibly brightly.

The Here And Now is, ostensibly, a side project consisting of songs Day didn’t think fit the FYS mold; considering that FYS’ last release broke their own mold anyway, it’s curious to me that these tracks didn’t get a shot at wider release. If you’re going to take such a hard sonic left turn, might as well do it with excellent material, no?

And make no mistake, Born to Make Believe Part 1 is excellent – maybe the best thing Day has written to date; certainly, one of the best releases of 2013.

* I mean, really. That title is, like, half-a-degree off from The Colour and the Shape. Your ambitions are showing.

** Indeed, the Zep influence is heavy throughout – the acoustic “Broken By You” would fit comfortably among that band’s softer, more poignant moments.

[apologies for the delayed posting – work issues!]