With his sorta-solo debut, Aaron Gillespie has emerged as the Dave Grohl of Christian hardcore. Like Grohl's first Foo Fighters album, the Almost's new debut is 99 percent Gillespie (although he's since put a working band together), and it has a surprising hard-pop accessibility, which is even more impressive in light of his underground past.
Gillespie originally made his mark as the singing drummer in the screamo/ post-hardcore unit Underoath. With his natural swagger, though, he's always seemed like a frontman waiting to happen, and the Almost's Southern Weather could establish the multi-instrumentalist as one of the standout talents who's still standing when Christian hardcore fades. Gillespie is joined by Sunny Day Real Estate frontman/emo icon Jeremy Enigk on "Dirty and Left Out," while the addictive "Say the Sooner," a sing-along rave-up with punk momentum, is one of the strongest singles of the year. And Gillespie offers some frank commentary on the scene in the nearly-as-catchy "I Mostly Like to Copy Other People."
"Remember in the early '90s, when Guns N' Roses was a band and Poison was a band, but we didn't know that Nirvana was going to be the new thing?" asks Gillespie. "I feel like [Underoath] has contributed to that state of music now. And I think it's just a possibility that in a few years, people won't remember what's happening now."
But if they do, they'll remember the Almost.