Headfirst

It's Getting Better

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When a musical term contains the word "post," it usually means that the style came after some type of revolution -- that is, after a genre (be it rock or jazz) had experienced a serious upheaval and the dust was starting to settle. Post-bop came after the bebop revolution changed jazz from groove-oriented popular music to complex art-house music; post-punk was the '80s indie rock that came after the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Ramones had sent shock waves through the rock world of the late '70s. Similarly, post-grunge followed the Nirvana/Pearl Jam/grunge upheaval of the early '90s; while grunge was a revolution, post-grunge (as in Live, Creed, Default, etc.) has been more of an evolution. And on It's Getting Better, Headfirst embodies the post-grunge aesthetic. Everything about this CD screams post-grunge in no uncertain terms -- loud, aggressive, hard-rocking guitars are combined with introspective, probing, angst-ridden lyrics. In other words, they're exactly the sort of band that one expected to hear on alterna-rock stations in the mid- to late '90s and early 2000s. Headfirst is no party band; It's Getting Better (their first full-length album) maintains an ultra-serious tone and thrives on emotional introspection. The disc isn't groundbreaking or terribly distinctive -- Headfirst is mining the same post-grunge waters that numerous other bands have mined. Nonetheless, their material is sincere and generally enjoyable. And let's be realistic: not every young artist who comes along is going to be as trendsetting as Nirvana, Charlie Parker, Run-D.M.C., Astor Piazzolla, or Jimi Hendrix -- inevitably, music will have both followers and leaders, and the leaders will be the minority. It's Getting Better doesn't point rock in any new, uncharted directions; regardless, this is a noteworthy, if derivative, debut for the Tempe, AZ, outfit.