“Rose EP” – The Front Bottoms

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I have always felt that when a band reaches a certain degree of fame, they should be required to re-record the old hits and underground favorites that helped fuel their success in the first place. Enter the Front Bottoms, whose first two self-released albums (2008’s I Hate My Friends and 2009’s My Grandma Vs. Pneumonia) and EP (Brothers Can’t Be Friends, also ’08) contributed to the band’s rise to NJ stardom. All three releases collectively contain some of the catchiest and most heartfelt songs the band has ever written, yet the recording quality from these early sessions leaves something to be desired. As a response to these facts, the Front Bottoms recently put out the Rose EP – named after drummer Mathew Uychich’s grandmother – which consists of six freshly recorded fan favorites from the early era of the Bottoms. Some of the listed tracks will be easily recognizable to longtime fans of the band. In fact, “Flying Model Rockets” and “12 Feet Deep” continue to be two of the most frequently requested songs at Front Bottoms concerts. Some of the less familiar tunes were included because according to the band, they were songs that Mat’s grandmother particularly liked.

Coming in at under 20 minutes in length, Rose EP is certainly a quick listen, but it helps demonstrate how the Front Bottoms’ old tunes stack up against their breakout self-titled album and 2013’s impressive Talon Of The Hawk. The catchy choruses and depressing lyrics are all still there (“And I’m scared I’m gonna die / As lonely as I feel right now.”), but with a new tightness and power that the band has finally mastered. The improved quality of the recordings gives these songs some added freshness too. One major complaint of the Rose EP comes from hardcore fans of the Bottoms, who claim that the original versions of the songs are far superior to their updated counterparts. Granted, frontman Brian Sella has changed some vocal melodies here and there, and the drum beats are a bit more dancey at times. Nevertheless, the changes aren’t enough to really detract from the quality of the songwriting. Plus, people just getting into the Front Bottoms who have never heard anything earlier than 2011’s self-titled album wouldn’t know the difference anyway.

While the original recordings from ’08/’09 and earlier hold a special place in many fans’ hearts, Rose EP helps to keep these songs fresh and relevant. Those who appreciate this EP will also be pleased to know that Rose is just the first in a series of “grandmother EPs” of re-recorded oldies that the Front Bottoms plan to put out in the near future. So if you were also upset that songs like “Somebody Else” and “Christians Vs. The Indians” didn’t make the cut this time around, don’t be discouraged! For the time being, Rose EP is more than enough to keep fans satisfied. It’s yet another near-perfect release from a band that never fails to disappoint.

-Joe MacPhee

Recommended Jams: 12 Feet Deep, Flying Model Rockets, Jim Bogart

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