When Life Hands You Lemons

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The debut LP from Andover, MA's Piebald is characterized by a fresh attitude, a slight smirk, and plenty of rock energy. Led by singer Travis Shettel's almost unsettlingly high and, at times, off-key voice, the group manages to create off-kilter harmonies over varying time signatures with shockingly cohesive results. Pulled together by a strong rhythm section including the powerful yet aggressively tight drumming of Jon Sullivan, Piebald rummages their way through 11 tracks of high-energy emo-influenced rock & roll. Over their journey, they take on some surprisingly idealistic themes, but whether discussing their "personal politics," or dubbing themselves "the Humus generation," there is also a hint at the sense of humor that future releases would see brought (for better or worse) more toward the surface. When Life Hands You Lemons has more than a few high points, among them the grating but catchy "One Hundred Percent Good" and the anthemic "The Sea and a Lifesaver," but the chugging intensity and emotional viewpoint of "Holden Caulfield" may be the record's most ambitious moment. Packed with plenty of creative hooks and maybe a few too many lyrical clich├ęs, Piebald's debut is exactly what any young band trying to make a standout record should take into account. When Life Hands You Lemons not only takes a noble stab at a few things that aren't guaranteed to work, it does so with enough attitude to see the effort through.

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