Circles and Crosses
According to Forgotten Roots their biggest influences are Alkaline Trio and Bayside, with a nod to Bayside in their track-titling, the influences are easy to spot.
The track Bats could have been an Alkaline Trio b-side and 403-405’s guitar work is clearly Bayside-eque. To me though, Forgotten Roots also have a lot in common with the Great Compromise-era The Junior Varsity. And it is the synthesis of these three bands that creates Circles and Crosses.
This disc is deserving of repeated listens as it is pretty damn good. Cut it Out gets things going and sets the tone for the album. While the production isn’t the prettiest, it is clear that Forgotten Roots are a professional outfit. It sounds out to single out such a small section of a song, but the intro to Cut it Out is fantastic. I listen to so much music and it is great to have my attention piqued so immediately. The tracks mentioned earlier which so clearly pay homage (mimic) to their musical idols are solid tracks but it is on tracks such as Cut it Out that Forgotten Roots impress more as they establish their own identity. However it is left to album closer It’s Not a Horse, It’s a Zebra to really demonstrate this. Easily the strongest track on the album, it is original and relatively complex with a chorus that has an effortless sing-a-long quality about it.
But it can’t all be praise, and sure enough there are some drawbacks to this album. As stated the production is pretty ropey in places but this will get better the more exposure and opportunities the band gets. However, the vocal work leaves a little to be desired. The singer, Mark Shaw, has a slightly nasally, whiney voice which can grate after a while. Despite his best efforts to be Matt Skiba, he just doesn’t have the voice to carry it off. And not to pick on him, but at times the lyrics are pretty derivative and sub-standard, especially on Too much and Memories. It is possible to have dark and broody lyrics without constantly resorting to metaphors about blood and the occult, but as he grows as a song-writer this will undoubtedly improve.
However, this is still a good album. Forgotten Roots are a rock-band that needs supporting, it isn’t often that the UK produces a band that produces good, dark punk-rock but it seems like it just has.