In the last few years, pop-punk and emo have become much darker genres: subject matters have finally graduated high school and are moving on to our more valid existential crises. Music journalism has caught on to this important shift, and is focusing on music emerging from regions of the country outside of New York and Los Angeles. The Southeast, where rock finds its roots, is seeing an increasing amount of attention for a new crop of talented and innovative indie bands. In Atlanta, Georgia, The Swear – led by a fierce songwriter who’s been known to hang out in graveyards – has been growing and readying for the release of their debut LP, Hotel Rooms And Heart Attacks. That songwriter is singer/guitarist Elizabeth Elkins, a Grand Prize Winner of the John Lennon Songwriting Contest. On this album, her sharp-witted lyrics and clever compositions shine, skillfully mixing influences ranging from Lost Generation literature and Billy Joel to Social Distortion and Garbage.
The album is ripe with stand-out tracks. The heavy guitar riffs in “History Of Cinema” bounce off of Elkins’ undeniably strong voice – creating a goth-pop concoction ready for radio. “The City That Never,” which clocks in at nearly six minutes, is a lush and lyrical epic. The pop hooks evident in tracks such as “The Violence Rings” and “Some Graves are Stolen” make it clear the whole band excels at ear candy.
Hotel Rooms And Heart Attacks is a song-by-song success of pairing their efforts with producers Ted Niceley (Fugazi), Matt Goldman (Cartel, Underoath) and Jeff Tomei (Smashing Pumpkins). Mixed by Eli Janney (Girls Against Boys, Melissa Auf Der Maur, Garbage), the album is an 11-song testament to the band’s pop sensibility and punk rock ethic. It’s no surprise that they are so loved back home. “There’s a little punk, a little pop, and maybe even a little country hidden in there somewhere,” says Elkins, and smirks, “Though if Jeremy heard me say country, he’d probably slap me.”