College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

This Week’s Free Sudoku
This Week’s Free Sudoku
This Week’s Free Crossword
This Week’s Free Crossword

Killer Klassix: First Class – “Somewhere In The Grey”

I guess if there is another EP that I found more human in its emotional exploration for finding middle ground, its title provides enough of an answer.

The awful truth remains; we are all still in high school. 

For the contemporary young adult today, the experience that is the stereotypical American High School either leaves a bad taste in the mouth or a wonderful social experience for exploring friendships and solidifying your path in life. Whether the latter was your experience, or you hated your high school experience, it’s formative. Foundational to the life we attempt to make, but not without its emotional and psychological toll. The experience bottlenecks at some point, and we have to learn to prioritize, whether we are ready for the oncoming responsibility of life, and its many twists, or whether we are taking things day by day. 

Chicago punk quartet First Class captures aspects of this youthful struggle in their only release as a band.

“Somewhere In The Grey” EP is the only release from Chicago punk band, First Class. Released on Jan. 1, 2003, by Johann’s Face Records, a notably small but respected indie punk label responsible for several Chicago punk bands being able to record their first demos, including Alkaline Trio and The Smoking Popes. The EP met with mixed response. 

The band was composed of former members of a better-known Chicago punk band, Much the Same. While receiving recognition among the local music scene and positive reactions from fans, the band was swimming in a sea of smaller acts looking to capitalize on the same momentum they were creating, and as a result, the band fizzled. However, that doesn’t mean they did not leave an impact.  

“Any More Lonely” is a brilliant initialization for the homage to growing pains that is the EP. There is little to no room for mistakes on the track. In its fast-paced, guitar-chugging, heavy manner, First Class delivers a punk track rooted in the search for love and relief from loneliness, perfectly bridging the gap between the emotional and the rigid aggression of frustration.  

“501” begins with an enjoyable drum groove. One of the interesting musical components that carries throughout the EP is the near metallic-natured drum performance by Matt Hussa. While fast, his fills are intricately mischievous, sneakily trying to add a fill or adhere to a different rhythmic pattern adherent to the thematic nature of the track. 

The song is a lament for misplacement and looking for a home in an environment that is no longer home. One could make the argument lyricist and vocalist Andy Simon was looking for a place to pull inspiration from departing from a band to start all over and attempting to make his new band his home. Simon sings, “been running around this place for so long/but my eyes have seen enough/and the disappoint is building up and I/ think its time for me to move on.” His lyrics support the notion of moving on amicably and tailoring the music in order to convey this message melodically and masterfully.  

“In This Silence” is obscure, but catchy. While the song employs a very simplistic punk structure initially, the song takes its pseudo-faith-based message and transforms under its influence. While under the notion of theological faith, the track and performance are led once again by Simon and Hussa in a dynamic that plays wonderfully in the track as vehicles for melodic progression.    

“November 15” Is my personal favorite off the EP. It’s a love song. That being said, it’s a love song that is inhibitive of the nature in which one falls in love. The intricately vulnerable lyrics paired with the cutting-edge nature of the song make for a track that takes the conventional characteristics of punk and amplifies them to distinguish the band’s stylistic approach to the sound. 

Another aspect of the track that makes it brilliant is Simon’s lyrical prose. The first verse reads, “If beauty had a name, it would be you/If beauty had to change its face, you’re the only one who could take its place/ I somehow knew I would be seeing you again/like the bricks in every fairytale/its like the princess at the end.” Simon’s romantic lyrics really just carry the song with Hussa fading into the back to make sure the track itself is properly unveiled with ease. 

“Taking Over Me” carries the same sentiment as the previous track, but switches the nature of the punk theme. The backing track is fast-paced, chaotic, all over the place, after a very composed and mellow intro melody. While the song thematically is about how one thinks of the person they love, the music follows a very back-and-forth pulling tension between Hussa and the strings. It’s really difficult to tell whether the band’s experimentative nature makes the track that much more appealing or just is a mechanism to maintain the listener’s focus. Either way, the song is just that much better.

“Same Side” is an angry, declarative track. While essentially the band has rooted itself in exploring all different types of emotional evolution, the track is painful, bitter and carries anger out to the point of melody. Technically the track does everything to explain how difficult a betrayal must feel, but it is more cathartic in its attempt to use the medium as a means of resolution.

Nothing comes easy. And the things that do come easy, eventually become hard or difficult when we associate feelings towards them. If there is another EP that I found more human in its emotional exploration for finding a middle ground, its title provides enough of an answer. The EP is solid, even after nearly 21 years of its release. For me, this EP is nostalgic, I grew up listening to it because my sister always played it when I would stay home with her. So I might be a bit biased, but it’s my column, so deal with it. 


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

Comment Policy: Comments are not posted until they are approved by the Managing Editor. Comments that are approved will be civil and on-topic. Profanity, vulgarity, slurs, personal attacks and misinformation will not be allowed. If a comment violates these standards, it will not be approved.
All Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *