Graduation Speech "Arcane Feelings" LP

Graduation Speech "Arcane Feelings" LP

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As musicians change, so does their music. It’s an unavoidable truth that some fans hold against their favorite artists, but that evolution also yields some of their most powerful music. Case in point: New Jersey’s Graduation Speech was conceived when Kevin Day sought a quieter creative outlet separate from his band Aspiga. Though the intimate acoustic project differed dramatically from Aspiga’s brand of blown-speaker pop-punk, it opened new doors for Day as a songwriter.


Now, after six years of releases, Graduation Speech is ready with Arcane Feelings, an EP that noticeably features six full-band songs, building on 2021’s Maintenance Required. On that EP, Day called on friends to add guitars, drums, keys, and percussion, showing what Graduation Speech could look like with more rhythm and layers. Where previous Graduation Speech releases were quiet, personal — perfect for an acoustic house show living room — the songs on Arcane Feelings are written for a small stage in the back of a bar, the crowd knocking shoulders, nodding to the beat as they nurse their beers.


That's in no small part due to the addition of Billy Bollinger, Brandon Iacometta (both of Crucial Dudes), and Pat Pie rounding out this new lineup. “Henry,” for example, bounces, rowdy and antsy, to Pie’s stamping drums, acoustic chords jangling between the beats. Bollinger’s long, electric leads drip across the verses throughout Arcane Feelings, but also add texture and heat. On “Get Lost,” guitars glint like the summer sun off of chrome; on “No Confidence,” they smolder following the first chorus, send clean plumes of smoke into the second verse. But even the slower, quieter songs—those most reminiscent of previous Graduation Speech albums—still feel weightier with a full band. “09-12-20” starts as a simple, sparse song stirred by Iacometta’s churning bass and resounding guitars, but builds into something alive; a choir of vocalists lend it breath, thumping percussion a pulse, piano accents the crackle of consciousness. It’s different from what fans might expect from Graduation Speech, but the added instruments and layers transform these songs into something powerful in an entirely new way.

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