Boston-based quartet Really From explores their identity as a band and individuals by breaking the boundaries of jazz, rock, and punk in their latest self-titled album.
Released on March 12, Really From’s self-titled album takes the listener on a musical odyssey. Driven by beautiful trumpet solos, erratic drumming, and intense lyrics, Really From prove themselves to be musical pioneers that traverse genres. The band is composed of drummer Sander Bryce, trumpeter Matt Hull, vocalist-keyboardist Michi Tassey, and vocalist-guitarist Chris Lee-Rodriguez. With such a diverse instrumental lineup, Really From blends each of their sounds to explore the feeling of belonging. Opener “Apartment Song” showcases this with a more traditional quartet arrangement, as Hull and Tassey bounce the melody back and forth, each verse building on itself. The song is an excellent example of the band’s smooth jazzy sound, as Hull pulls the listener in with his hypnotic trumpet solos.
The single off the album, “Try Lingual,” manages to pass from a jazz sound into that of indie-punk rock in only a minute. Tassey and Lee-Rodriguez exchange verses effortlessly to reflect on their cultural identities as mixed race individuals and the struggles of communicating with family members in a foreign language. “I listen hard to what you say / Each word begins to sound the same / The sounds, the words, the goddamn shame / Forgive me, I’m complaining,” sing Lee-Rodriguez and Tassey in unison, building with each line to express their frustration and failure in communicating. Lee-Rodriguez’s volatile guitar playing intensifies the lyrics and makes the listener’s hair stand on end.
Tassey and Lee-Rodriguez’s voices complement each other, reflecting the dual nature of the band existing in both the jazz and rock worlds. Tassey exhibits the smooth angelic sound of Mitski’s vocals drifting through her verses while Lee-Rodriguez channels Joe Strummer from The Clash, screaming into the microphone with extreme passion accompanied by manic strumming on his guitar. Even the band’s instrumentation adds to the contrasting styles as Hull’s melodic trumpet is accentuated by Bryce’s wild drumming, creating idiosyncratic musical texturing.
In “Yellow Fever,” Tassey provides commentary on the fetishizing of Asians within the dating world with lyrics like, “You’re calling my name / Even though you can’t pronounce it” and “You want those eyes, pale skin, black hair you called it / Yellow fever / I grit my teeth and freeze no words come out.” The track takes on a more punk sound as the drums are worked into a frenzy and Tassey sings with a powerful frustration, punctuated by Hull’s lyrical trumpet, continuing the album’s theme of contrast.
Tassey and Lee-Rodriguez continue to trade verses in “I’m From Here,” discussing their insecurities as people of color. “I was raised like my mother was before / I was raised by the fear of my own skin / I was raised with it / I was born with it,” sings Tassey. The song is supported by an almost arrhythmic drum beat as Bryce bounces from time signature to time signature, capturing the anxious heartbeat of self-doubt through the lyrics.
In this album, Really From adds to the growing post-rock movement with their unique take. The instrumentation between Lee-Rodriguez’s guitar and Bryce’s drums carries an intensity causing the listeners head to bob up and down, while belting out the lyrics. Though just a quartet, Really From produces an intensely large sound that reflects their identities while portraying the versatility of jazz music to break down the walls that stand between music genres.