Los Angeles’ pop punk powerhouse Upset have released a music video for “Away,” a track from their newest EP, ’76, out now on Lauren Records. The video was filmed by the band on their recent full U.S. tour with Colleen Green.
’76 is the follow up to their critically acclaimed debut LP, She’s Gone, which Pitchfork called a “whirlwind of instantly likeable sticky-catchy pop punk.”
Upset is a Los Angeles band comprised of Ali Koehler, Patty Schemel, Rachel Gagliardi and Lauren Freeman. The band released their debut record, the critically acclaimed She’s Gone, in October 2013 on Don Giovanni Records.
For their new EP, ’76, Upset agreed they wanted to build on the pop foundation She’s Gone laid down. Opening with an atmosphere of driving guitars on Glass Ceiling and closing with the honest and bare bones Wonder, Upset ’76 is as powerful and feminine as it is dynamic.
Recorded at Todd Congelliere’s Clown Sound studio in San Pedro, Upset stuck to the DIY punk ethos they are comfortable with. All songs were tracked live and in the first take or two. The addition of Lauren Freeman (of Benny the Jet Rodriguez) helps realize the pop punk nature of Koehler’s songwriting, whereas Rachel Gagliardi (of Slutever) adds chugging bass and soprano harmonies that effectually drive home the intense emotional content of Koehler’s lyrics. The camaraderie of the new lineup is palpable, and the musical relationship between Koehler and Schemel is stronger than ever. Koehler coming from a background in drumming (ex-Vivian Girls and Best Coast) and Schemel (ex-Hole) being a veteran of the era that most inspired the rest of the bands makes for a riveting musical dynamic.
Thematically, the songs on ’76 are about fresh starts, nostalgia and friendship. Coming strong out of the gate with “Glass Ceiling”, Koehler sings about leaving an unhealthy friendship behind. “Home” and “Away” were written as sister songs and they flow almost seamlessly into each other. Gagliardi and Koehler sing a sort of round at the end of “Home”, repeating “I miss my home and what I know, familiar streets and dirty snow.” As two LA transplants by way of the east coast, Koehler and Gagliardi commiserate about the benefits and downfalls of living in a big lonely, sunny city away from the scene they came up in. “Away” revels in the comfort of restlessness and misery. Koehler sings “I can’t quite name this feeling…when it strikes I panic but I’m happy to have it.”
The familiarity of depression almost feels like seeing an old friend, albeit a nuisance of a friend. “Away” really showcases Upset’s pop songwriting capabilities with a big chorus and middle eight that would fit in on the Angus or Clueless soundtrack. “Pastey” is an unconventional love song that borders on psychotic, but then again isn’t love inherently psychotic? Schemel’s drumming shines in the chaotic build and breakdown during “Pastey.” EP closer “Wonder” ties everything together with references to 90s hit albums To The Faithfully Departed, Sparkle and Fade, and Pieces of You, while Koehler reflects on a childhood friendship and coming of age in the early 2000s. Upset wear their influences on their sleeve (and even threw a cover of Jawbreaker’s “Do You Still Hate Me” in there), but the autobiographical nature of their songs makes them their own. These are songs by fans for fans.