“Quarterbacks” by QUARTERBACKS: 5 Times Better than Nickelback


“Quarterbacks” by QUARTERBACKS: 5 Times Better than Nickelback

[Team Love, 2015]

by Jess Swarner


After you finish laughing at that clever title thought up by one of my friends, let’s clear something up:

A quarterback is someone who calmly takes charge of a team and leads it to victory in the last few pressure-filled seconds of a game.

QUARTERBACKS is a group of guys who spend 80% of their album playing at a wildly frantic pace and lamenting about their lack of control over their own lives, much less anyone else’s.

Obviously, the two are very different, but I’m willing to bet you’ll like these guys much better than the high school jocks you’re thinking of.

QUARTERBACKS, hailing from New Paltz, NY, fill their self-titled debut with infectious twee punk, managing to sound like an earlier, more DIY version of Modern Baseball with Dean Engle’s flat vocals and sad boy lyrics.

It’s hard to feel bored at any point in this album—with its longest song clocking in at 1:39, the total 22 minutes fly by in energetic spurts and short lulls that come with the transitions. Many of these songs appeared on the Bandcamp cassettes Loveseat (2012) and QUARTERBOY (2014) but have since been sped up and smoothed out, wasting no time delivering their messages.

Hiding out in the middle of the album, “Last Boy” jumps out as the obvious choice for a single had the band released one. With the catchiest chorus and some of the most humorously emo lyrics—“You probably know lots of boys who play guitar / You’re the kind of girl who attracts boys who write songs”—it feels like a good summary of the album.

“Simple Songs” is a track any and all writers will gravitate towards. Engle creates an anthem for the utter frustration of writer’s block, singing “The only thing that speaks to me / Are catchy melodies, the same chords all the time” while poking fun at the gratuitous use of chords E, C, and G in his music.

If you’re looking for something romantic to tell your significant other on Valentine’s Day, or just for a grade-A pick-up line, channel the spirit of song “Schmictionary”: “I need new adjectives to try to describe you / Words are so meaningless when they’re applied to you / Dictionary Schmictionary”

Quarterbacks manages to transcend the whirlwind of arguments over genre labels and punk/emo revivals by presenting itself as a simply fun and reflective album.

Download Quarterbacks on Bandcamp and iTunes or listen for free on Spotify.