(Hed) p.e. has spent the majority of its life flying just under the mainstream radar. From changes in the band’s lineup to changes in record labels and more, the band—Jahred Gomes (vocals), Mark Young (bass), Jackson Benge (guitar), and Jeremiah Stratton (drums)—has stuck to its guns so to speak and managed to remain a favorite among its fans while still pulling in new fans along the way. Now with its latest album, titled Evolution, due out later this month, it looks to gain even more fans. That is thanks to the album boasting a solid mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics from start to finish. One example of how that mix of music and lyrics will catch listeners’ ears is the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This song comes across as a social statement of sorts about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. ‘No Tomorrow’ has its own interest, too. And for all of the high intensity that permeates most of this album, the members of (Hed) p.e. do show a softer side in the album’s closing numbers without losing any of their social consciousness. Case in point the album’s penultimate piece ‘Let It Burn.’ This one harkens back to reggae great Bob Marley. It is one more of so many pieces throughout Evolution that will have listeners agreeing that this album is some of the band’s best work to date.
The songs written for Evolution collectively make this album some of the band’s best work to date. That’s because of the mix of infectious grooves and thought provoking lyrics. The topics covered in this album vary in subject matter. One of the hardest hitting of those subjects comes in the album’s second track, ‘Lost in Babylon.’ This is just this critic’s own interpretation of the song. But it comes across lyrically as tackling the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse. Front man Jahred Gomes sings of a person whose life was rough to begin with but was only made worse with the introduction of drugs and alcohol. He notes in the song’s opening verse, “It’s just another day/Gotta wake up to the pain/Those demons inside/They wanna come outside and play/Those demons I hide inside/I gotta make ‘em go away/Tonight/We raise hell/We take everything in sight.” He goes on from here to sing about the consequences of covering those demons with various drugs and alcohol. Specifically, he says, “I can’t feel my face/I’m so wasted/I wanna die/I’m young/Just having fun/So why/Not/Drink and drive/You dead/From all that whiskey/And all the vodka/drinking cocaine/And sniffing marijuana.” Yes, that’s right. The whole intention of that line being written in such fashion is to illustrate just how powerful and dangerous abusing drugs and alcohol can be. It shows that it can screw up a person so badly that said person wouldn’t even know what he or she is doing. Something as minor as this, examined on a larger scale, makes for quite the powerful statement. And the manic energy exuded by the band illustrates that message even more. Gomes goes even deeper as the song progresses. And audiences in hearing the song’s depth will agree that such musical and lyrical depth makes this one of the album’s most important and best songs, too.
Another of the album’s standout moments comes only a few songs after ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The song in question is the radio ready ‘No Tomorrow.’ Right from the song’s start, audiences will note a stark difference in the overall style of the song in comparison to ‘Lost in Babylon.’ It’s more of a straight forward hard rock song. That difference in sound makes it far more apt to be one of the album’s singles than say ‘Lost in Babylon.’ The defiant lyrics and the heavy, thundering guitar line here will work just as well in a live setting as on the radio. The song’s chorus, in which is written, “When it all goes down/You know I wanna be right there/Yeah, when the walls come down/You know I wanna be right there/On the frontline/Fightin’ on the right side/Holdin’ up the frontline/Like there’s no tomorrow.” The band adds in the song’s second verse what comes across as an indictment of the powers that be. Gomes sings in that verse, “Renegade/Can’t be f&*^!^% around with my life/I’m gonna break you/Show you how real rebels we ride/Take a big hit/Open your eyes and realize/It’s not the destination/It’s about the journey we ride/Can’t stop you from turning water into wine/Like the system/Poisoning the masses from the inside out/But change is coming that you heard about/The revolution’s on the way/Go BOOM BOOM!” There is a certain social consciousness about this song, nothing the revolution coming. It would seem that the noted revolution would be in regards to those working inside the system that is poisoning the masses. If that is the intended reference, then it makes the song all the harder hitting and worth the listen. In the bigger picture, it is yet another piece of Evolution’s whole that makes this album worth the listen.
Evolution boasts more than its share of high intensity songs throughout the course of its twelve tracks. For all of the powerhouse riffs and equally deep lyrics, the members of (Hed) p.e. show that they can also craft songs that are just as powerful without the heavier riffs and pounding drums and bass line. A prime example of that ability lies in the album’s penultimate track ‘Let it Burn.’ This piece harkens back to reggae legend Bob Marley both stylistically and lyrically. Gomes sings in this song, “show me a miracle/Show me some love today/A little bit of love go a long way/Just a little bit of love go a long way.” It’s one of those pieces that exemplifies the themes of togetherness and joy in life common in works from Marley and even his song Ziggy. And after all of the fiery energy presented by the album’s previous songs, it shows that a song can still be heavy without being musically heavy. It’s one more example of what makes Evolution worth the listen and potentially one of the year’s best independent releases.
(Hed) p.e. is currently touring in support of its upcoming album. It will be in Houston, Texas today and Dallas, Texas on Sunday. The band’s tour schedule also includes a stop at the famed Hooligan’s night club in Jacksonville, NC on Wednesday, August 27th. Fans can get the band’s full tour listing online now as well as the latest news from the band online at http://www.facebook.com/hedpe, http://www.hedperocks.com, http://www.myspace.com/hedpe, and http://twitter.com/hedpe. To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it. Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at http://philspicks.wordpress.com.