released June 1st, 2010

from the album - Unforgivable

from all music

The post-hardcore/emo-pop quintet Hawthorne Heights came to life in the summer of 2001. Originally called A Day in the Life, the Dayton, OH-based collective saw numerous lineup changes and shifting music styles before settling on a permanent formation. Composed of drummer Eron Bucciarelli, bassist Matt Ridenour, vocalist/guitar player J.T. Woodruff, and guitarists Casey Calvert and Micah Carli, Hawthorne Heights built their fan base on a solid demo recording and a series of self-booked national tours that saw them sharing the stage with the likes of From Autumn to Ashes and the Descendents. In 2003, they signed with Chicago label Victory Records, resulting in the 2004 release of their powerful full-length debut, The Silence in Black and White. As the bandmates relentlessly toured behind it, the album became Victory's highest-selling debut, while its lead single, "Ohio Is for Lovers," slowly invaded rock radio, MTV, and teenage hearts across the country.

Hawthorne Heights' follow-up effort, If Only You Were Lonely, arrived in 2006 alongside the This Is Who We Are DVD. Leading up to the album's release, Victory urged street team members to help it chart above urban singer Ne-Yo, whose own album was slated to be released the same day. Questionable promotional tactics included rearranging store displays to hide Ne-Yo's record and make Hawthorne Heights' more prominent. Lonely debuted at number three on the charts, though, unsurprisingly, more than a few eyebrows were raised in the band and label's direction. Regardless, the album continued to sell well, as its first single, "Saying Sorry," garnered airplay on many a modern rock radio station.

However, controversy came to a head in early August when Hawthorne Heights suddenly announced that they were leaving Victory Records (despite a contractual obligation of two more albums for the label) and suing the company over various issues, including unpaid royalties and tarnishing their name and relationship with fans over the aforementioned incident (the band claimed to have no knowledge of the street team letter that was issued as though personally from them). In a statement issued online, the bandmembers compared their time at the label to being in an "abusive relationship" and directly attacked "greed driven" label head Tony Brummel. As issues were sorted out behind the scenes (and Victory countersued the band, claiming they just wanted to jump to a major), Hawthorne Heights continued touring nationwide and served as headliners on the fall 2006 version of the popular Nintendo Fusion Tour with openers Relient K, the Sleeping, and more.

Following several court dates with their label, Hawthorne Heights returned to the road in late 2007. However, guitarist Casey Calvert died in his sleep just several hours into the tour, the victim of a lethal combination of antidepressant medications and Vicodin (Calvert had reportedly undergone a root canal prior to the band's departure, hence his need for painkillers). Soldiering on as a quartet, the bandmates resolved their issues with Victory Records and issued a third album, Fragile Future, in August 2008. The band decided to have Micah Carli fill in on vocals after Calvert's death, and went back to touring. In 2010, Hawthorne Heights released their fourth album, Skeletons, on Wind-Up Records.

album review

After dealing with the death of Casey Calvert and a series of legal battles with their former label, Victory Records, it was clear from the sound on Fragile Future that Hawthorne Heights had emerged from their trials (both literal and figurative) a more mature band. After making the conscious decision not to replace Calvert, instead having guitarist Micah Carli take over as the resident screamer, the band delivered their most refined album to date with Skeletons. At a glance, it might feel like this is their tamest effort, and in some ways it is. The music doesn’t have the intensity of their earlier work, lacking the raw power of their three-guitar assault, and the unclean vocals are almost nonexistent. That said, their songwriting feels tighter and more deliberate. Rather than trying to force themselves back into their older sound, the band is working with what they have without trying to fill the gap left by Carli. While the music may seem more scaled back, the lyrics feel rawer and more emotional, even without the use of the screaming vocal dynamic. Themes of loss and grief are at the forefront here, with the band still clearly coping with the death of a dear friend, as well as the unfortunate loss of J.T. Woodruff’s mother (who was given a touching dedication in the liner notes). “Bring You Back” and “Gravestones” are heartfelt coping anthems, showing the band at their most emotional without any traces of angst. Longtime fans of Hawthorne Heights will be able to appreciate the vulnerability here as they witness the band at their most exposed, seeing through to their titular skeletons.

Track Listing

1 Bring You Back Hawthorne Heights ... 3:22
2 Nervous Breakdown Hawthorne Heights ... 2:51
3 End of the Underground Hawthorne Heights ... 3:19
4 Drive Hawthorne Heights ... 3:06
5 Gravestones Hawthorne Heights ... 3:29
6 Broken Man Hawthorne Heights ... 2:51
7 Last Few Words Hawthorne Heights ... 3:03
8 Abandoned Driveways Hawthorne Heights ... 2:42
9 Picket Fences Hawthorne Heights ... 4:11
10 Here I Am Hawthorne Heights ... 3:10
11 Hollywood & Vine Hawthorne Heights ... 2:46
12 Unforgivable Hawthorne Heights ... 3:29
13 Boy Hawthorne Heights ... 3:45