HUGE thanks to Derek Kortepeter for sharing his new Amherst Drive EP, For Freedom And Democracy, with us here at the KMA!
As you know, we have covered Derek’s excellent work before:
Straight from the Amherst Drive bandcamp page for the EP, here’s Derek’s write-up:
This is the debut EP by Amherst Drive. It explores various social, personal, and political themes. It all covers things that consume me the most, so it is a very personal album. I hope my message is clear and that you are able to give it your time. I’ll be forever grateful.
Right! And now for the tracks:
Rise! starts off with a series of pull-quotes from political speeches over a bed of piano carnival-like music. Raunchy punk guitars and rapid-fire drumbeats wipe that away as we’re off to the races, baby! If ever there was an awesome call to action, here you go. There’s anger, righteousness, and pure energy in this track, all at 100 mph, complete with speed wobble in places. There’s pure urgency to get this all down before it’s too late. There’s an awesome guitar solo wailing away here too, and when it all crashes to a close, you know you’ve been woken up. “Take them down!” indeed!
Mental Case is pure Black Flag-feeling, I loved it. That disaffection, that confusion, the seeking for answers, everything slightly off-kilter and more real than anyone claiming they have it together.Yes! Another great guitar solo over the punk chords, too. As he screams “I’m a mental case” repeatedly as the song ends, the yearning is real.
Disorder takes us close to 80s fringe rock pop, with arpegiating guitar and chugging bass notes that resolve into ear-catching instrumental sections. There’s an echo to the whole affair, opening everything up and making the lyrics of waiting, longing, wondering. Again things are that wee bit off center, a recurring sense so far in these tracks and it’s the perfect thing that serves the music well. The ending raises the bar and shouts us out into the urge to play this one again!
Run Away’s pounding drums intro washes away another political quote, as the guitar knifes its way over top and the pace double-times. Lyrically, things are slipping away now, the urge to get away and start over before it’s too late is closing out this Ep. Is that the solution? We’re left to decide as the guitars wind down.
Short, sharp and brilliant, this EP covers some big themes in tight, economical tracks. There’s a directness to the attack, to the lyrics, to the urges and the needs in it all. As he said in his blurb on Bandcamp, this is a very personal effort for Derek, but the things covered here are, I’d wager, felt by all of us at one time or another.
Again, huge thanks to Derek for sharing this excellent effort. I recommend it to you all!
More info (from bandcamp):
released January 27, 2018
All songs produced by Derek Kortepeter.
Vocals and instrumentals by Derek Kortepeter.
All songs (except ‘Disorder’) written by Derek Kortepeter
Months ago, Derek Kortepeter sent me this two song single from his new project, Amherst Drive. I said I’d write it up in these pages, no problem. I threw it in the iPod, played it, loved it… and then didn’t write it up… Then I took that break for a couple of months… all the while neglecting my promise to Derek to do this… All apologies, Derek!
And it’s a damn cool single, too.
Breakdown drives hard enough, with pounding drums, wailing and crunchy guitars, throbbing bass… all of it tight and lean. The vocals, though, roil over the top in an almost Cure-Joy Division-like way… such a juxtaposition is at first jarring, but as you listen along it totally makes its own kind of sense. There’s a duality here, it’s plaintive and it rocks.
Better Way is more of a ballad, glistening and jangly. In the best lo-fi 90s alt-rock tradition, this one endears because it isn’t perfect. It doesn’t need to be – it’s all heart. Your ear is drawn in, and by the time the echoey guitar solo rolls around you’re already long hooked.
I can tell this is a project born of passion, vision, and clarity. Well done, Derek!
And you can get your Amherst Drive by following this link!