Jeff Rosenstock


Written by: MIN on 24/01/2018 11:46:17

Although I suppose that we should’ve seen it coming, no one quite expected Jeff Rosenstock to release his third proper solo record on New Year’s day 2018. The former Bomb the Music Industry! and Arrogant Sons of Bitches power-pop-punk frontman from Long Island, NY, speared right through being an underground superstar into being international media’s new favorite punkster with the release of 2016’s excellent ”WORRY.”, giving the now 35 year old musician the attention he’s more than deserving of. Besides having been active in the DIY music community for more than twenty years, Rosenstock’s also been a frontrunner for the “pay what you want”-scene way before Radiohead even thought about releasing “In Rainbows” (with all due respect), and despite making the switch from SideOneDummy to Polyvinyl, the release of “Post-” follows just the same.

Picking up where “WORRY.” left off, the aptly titled “Post-” deals with the aftermath of November 8th 2016. You can trace the dread, nervousness and powerlessness through every song on the record as it jitters and rattles through every line and every note on display, perfectly reflecting the energy and dynamics of recording an album in less than 86 hours (as is the case with “Post-”). Rosenstock still proves that he’s a unique songwriter, as I literally can’t think of a single person who sounds or performs just like him, despite the many influences you’re able to trace if you want to. Taking “Yr Throat” as an example, the song starts off in a most early-00s Against Me!-manner with turbulent drums over an electric guitar before the chorus kicks in, only to have the second verse come in stronger and with more emphasize. The song’s release arrives right after Rosenstock’s outlined the events of the 2016 tape leaks (you know, the ones where Donald Trump talks about groping a woman), in which Rosenstock yells: ”It’s not like any other job I know // If you’re a piece of shit they don’t let you go”, brilliantly encapsulating the frustration of being able to do nothing.

The beauty of these songs don’t lie in their massive choruses, but in their ultimate catharsis. The song hits a note, follows a narrative, evolves and ends on a high with an envious energy-burst that only the schizophrenic dynamics of Rosenstock’s character truly manages to capture. The franticness occasionally comes to a hold during the explosive ballade “TV Stars” and the very Antarctigo Vespucci-inspired “9/10”, and although the former of the two feels sub-par to the remainder of the album’s ten tracks, it’s a nice breather that adds some time to digest the record’s first half.

The record’s largest leap in terms of songwriting arrives during the album’s bookends, closer “Let Them Win” and opener “USA” (disregarding the five-second first track). While Rosentock’s previous record saw him evolve from ”We Cool?”, these songs both break the seven-minute mark while exceeding expectations. “USA” opens the ball with a heavier and slower guitar and rhythm-section than we’re used to, with Rosenstock screaming ”Dumbfounded, downtrodden and dejected // crestfallen, grief-stricken and exhausted // Trapped in my room while the house was burning to the motherfucking ground”, quickly setting the political agenda for the album. Midway through the song, everything just floats around in a characteristic Rosenstock 8-bit soundscape with a choir increasingly singing ”We’re tired and bored” (courtesy of Laura Stevenson, Chris Farren and fellow punk-rockers PUP), before picking up the pace again. The song results in a fitting, repeating “Et tu, USA?” gang call, deliciously sounding like “FU USA” the first few times you hear it. Despite all the questions that are raised through “Post-“ and all the uncertainty surrounding the political state of mind in America, “USA” sounds like defiance.

In contrast, “Let Them Win” is the sound of thousands of people marching through the streets, beaten and downtrodden, refused and rejected, yet still going strong. The bluesy riff that initiates the song pushes onward throughout the main part of the track, only sporadically interrupted by the release of people singing ”We’re not gonna let them win!”, signaling that no matter how long these next few years are going to be, we’ll pull through in unison. Yet, there’s still Rosenstock’s eternal self-consciousness and uncertainty, channeled through the massive choir being silenced into a quiet guitar strumming and Rosenstock, all alone, humming the last few notes. After about six minutes, everything becomes bleak and the ambient production takes over, filling the empty void for the remaining five minutes of the song.

“Post-“ inspires and gives us hope, but it also faces us with the fact that we’re not quite sure what’s going to happen next. And that’s scary. Although plenty of records through 2017 touched on the subject, none of them quite manages to convey all the feelings of being part of the left wing of USA like “Post-“ does. The feelings are real, the songs are gripping and the red thread throughout the record keeps things alive, resulting in an early contender for album of the year. Jeff Rosenstock sounds as vital and ready as ever, and it feels like his already excellent band only keeps getting better by the record. It’s a delight to follow a musician who, besides being so socially aware and politically fueled, keeps on churning out fantastic material while managing to play over a hundred shows per year. Hopefully, “Post-“ will keep pushing Rosenstock and co. on to greater things – rightfully, it should.


Download: USA, Yr Throat, Melba, Beating My Head Against a Wall, Let Them Win
For The Fans Of: Bomb the Music Industry!, Antarctigo Vespucci, Laura Stevenson, Joyce Manor, AJJ, PUP, Weezer
Listen: Facebook

Release date 01.01.2018
Quote Unquote Records, Polyvinyl

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