» Blog Archive Review: 14 North - What is the Feeling -
Evan Conway Hard Music, News, Reviews

There’s something stagnant in traditional rock music. You’re definitely not hard-pressed to find artists like Steven Wilson, Kvelertak, or even Volbeat who are doing something off the beaten path from the rest. But in terms of the simpler, less progressive, less blackened, and less rockabilly acts, you’ll find that the style of “post-grunge” has been a mainstay since the early 2000s. Since then there hasn’t been much to change that status quo, and even still we as an audience are seeing some harder rock bands take off in a more pop direction: Shinedown, Theory of a Deadman, and Papa Roach have all dabbled or merged with more pop tendencies to appeal to a wider audience in recent years, and you can’t deny it’s a bit disheartening.

14 North, one of Florida’s fledgling rock acts, is sticking to what made those mentioned bands work in the first place. What is the Feeling is about as straight forward in its presentation as it can get with chunky, downtuned guitars, an easily processed structure, and a band with an obvious passion for the music they’re playing. 14 North has nothing to hide with their music and they’re not here to participate in the dick-measuring that countless other bands want to take part in – and that’s perhaps their greatest strength in knowing they’re just doing what they do best.

“Break” starts off the album on a high note and it’s an anthemic, hard-hitting opener that tends to remind of Breaking Benjamin in how vocalist Brandon Williams delivers his parts; he’s not trying to ape the aforementioned band the way a band like Seether used to ape Nirvana or everyone post-Human Clay wanted to be Scott Stapp. Things stay at this high point for the first third of the album, which really bodes well in getting the listener invested in seeing this quick, 37-minute affair to the end. 14 North doesn’t want to waste your time, and all ten tracks are all fitted to provide one with rock music and not some pseudo-country ballad for crossplay coverage on the radio.

That last note is both a strength and a weakness to 14 North. I, for one, am thankful I didn’t have to listen to any slide guitars or another band making a lame attempt at the last second to put out a ballad single with some neutered 3 Doors Down nonsense, but the band never gives you that ballad. First off: cool, yes, I like that. Secondly: this is kind of a problem as it never changes the dynamic of What is the Feeling. It’s like painting a picture and only using bright colors, so to speak. And granted 14 North do play songs that are different tempos, and they are clearly writing songs without rehashing the same ideas, but at some point the dynamic and flow of an album needs to change speed.

And that leads into the main problem that I’ve found with What is the Feeling, in that it suffers from a structural issue. While it’s certainly an album, it begins to feel more like a compilation of ten songs towards the end of its runtime. While there’s certainly no bad songs on the album, either, there are weaker ones in the bunch. In my listens, I found myself returning to “Fairy Tale” and “Bleeding” the least. Maybe it’s a placement thing, I dunno. By the time “Hate Me” begins to close out the album, it doesn’t feel like we’ve been working towards anything and you’re finishing up a playlist, and it might be because of some of the small, minute stumbles on the path.

Yet, all in all, What is the Feeling can’t offend anyone with how it’s been constructed. This is rock music, plain and simple, and inoffensive at that. It doesn’t talk down to you, it’s not trying to prove anything, and it’s an easily digestible collection of songs that accomplish what they set out to do. Especially if the bigger rock bands are copping out for poppier endeavors, you’ll feel right at home with 14 North. They’re good at what they do, and it’s their honesty and grounded nature that makes them so appealing.

What is the Feeling is available now. You can watch the video for “Break” below.

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email


Enter your email address: