Aaron Gillespie is a Hot Topic heartthrob, but he's also a lot like Elvis and Jerry Lee: He's a religious southern boy with gobs of talent. In Underoath, Gillespie stands out as the singing drummer. And on Southern Weather, his semi-solo debut under the Almost moniker, he plays like a star-in-the-making. Similar to the first Foo Fighters disc, Southern Weather is almost entirely the work of one driven hardcore drummer turned modern-rock multi-instrumentalist.
"Say This Sooner" has made the leap from MySpace cult to rock radio. Gillespie gives a Johnny Cash chug-a-thunk rhythm a pop-punk makeover, adding speedy drums and an unshakable sing-along chorus.
Unlike the quasi-Christian rockers in Evanescence and Creed, Gillespie doesn't ditch his faith. A confessional titled "Dirty and Left Out" shouts Jesus' name, with Sunny Day Real Estate mainman Jeremy Enigk contributing backing vocals. In addition to sacred love, Gillespie's got rock in his heart. In cuts like the title track, he self-harmonizes on choruses that suddenly drop out to just a piano or acoustic guitar, then come back twice as loud. Southern Weather is a bright forecast for a long crossover career.