Concert preview: Swearin’ enters adulthood kicking and screaming

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From the November 14, 2013 edition

When Swearin’ set out to record its self-titled debut in 2012, the quartet had a loose idea what it wanted its music to sound like.

“We all came from pop-punk backgrounds,” singer/guitarist Kyle Gilbride said from Philadelphia in a recent phone interview. “So it was natural, like, ‘Oh, this sound works. This will be a good fit.’”

But for the group’s sophomore album, Surfing Strange (Salinas), which surfaced earlier this year, the foursome opted to ditch the established template.

“This time it was, ‘Who fucking cares if it’s a good fit? This is what I want to say,’” continued Gilbride, who is joined in the band by girlfriend Allison Crutchfield (guitar/vocals) and Keith Spencer (bass/vocals) and Jeff Bolt (drums). “I think everyone felt comfortable giving a little bit more of their personality, and some of those more diverse musical influences had an easier time showing through.”

So while the group’s head rush of a debut echoed those whirlwind teenage years, Surfing could pass for a conflicted cast member from Noah Baumbach’s “Kicking and Screaming,” a 1995 film about a group of college grads torn between the inevitability of adulthood and a desire to hold onto some semblance of youth. The fuzzy, guitar-driven songs, in turn, tend to be slower and more melancholic, with lyrics that touch on regret, the lingering sting of heartache and, on “Dust in the Gold Sack,” various “grudges unrequited.”

While Crutchfield anchored the band’s first album, handling vocal duties on virtually every song, this latest effort is a far more democratic affair, with Gilbride and Spencer taking the lead on roughly half the tracks. According to Gilbride, this was a natural extension of the comfort level developed among the four musicians over the last year.

“We weren’t all that close when we started the band,” he said (shockingly the four had never been in the same room together before their first rehearsal). “This time everybody was pretty supportive of each other musically. It was like, ‘Why not try it because we can’t make the same record twice anyway.’ I really wouldn’t want to be in a band where I felt I had to write a certain type of song. I don’t think any of us would.”

Courtesy of Swearin’