If you took a look at my twitter feed Friday night you would have thought that Charlotte was the epicenter of the American musical landscape. The Queen City has given rise to two of this years most surprising ascendent musical acts who, by an act of God it seems, both decided to drop projects on the same day. Rapper DaBaby was getting the majority of the talk online with memes about how he starts rapping before the song begins and how there was a feature missing from his friend Cam Coldheart. Tucked in between those and the last of the dying “sco pa tu manaa” tweets another Charlotte act was filling up what was left of my (admittedly DIY rock heavy) twitter timeline. Emo band Jail Socks has shot up like a comet in the DIY scene this past year off of a surprisingly small body of work. With Friday’s release of their hotly anticipated No Sleep Records debut, the It’s Not Forever EP, Jail Socks’ discography doubled from four to eight songs total. The band has quickly rocketed past groups in the scene who have been around more years than Jail Socks has songs out, and yet it is not at all hard to see why the band and specifically It’s Not Forever are getting the hype they have. Jail Socks is a distillation of everything that the basement show DIY ethic represents while having a sound massive enough that it already feels stadium ready.
While It’s Not Forever is a six song EP it is the longest and most “proper” release the band has had thus far, and to be fair at twenty minutes it is longer than most Joyce Manor albums. The cover art moved away from the dog motif of their first two releases but held on to the flowers present in their split with Placeholder, with a bouquet of multi-colored roses transposed over a bustling North Carolina avenue. I don’t think any other pooch could have made a better cover than the late great Georgia the bulldog did on their Placeholder split anyway. Jail Socks jump out the gate strong with a rerecording of Jake Halpin, a track which is opened and closed by two massive riffs with twinkly undertones that are connected by a slowed down vocal bridge in the middle. Much of what makes Jail Socks sound so polished is lead singer Aidan Yoh’s command of his voice which he puts to work right away. As the song slows to a crawl Aidan starts singing initially as soft and tender as James Barrett before reaching up to a thorny exasperated yelp, then bringing it back down for a soft melodic crawl and finally picking up the pace into the next riff with an anthemic “I SWEAAAAAAAAR”. It is a performance that leaves such an impression that I was shocked when I went back and realized he had only sung three lines. As I said in a previous piece Aidan’s voice has everything you could ask for from a non-nasally emo singer. It hits the perfect level of strain; he can scream without ever being abrasive, yelp without ever sounding whiny, and sing genuinely without sounding corny, and make it all sound cohesive within the context of the same song.
Jake Halpin transitions seamlessly into Parting Words, which off the rip has the best use of the word “California” in a song since the O.C. theme song. When I first heard the track it just felt absolutely massive, I could immediately imagine a gigantic crowd shouting the closing lines of the song back to the band. Funnily enough what pops onto my twitter feed Saturday night but a video of Jail Socks ripping up DIY Prom with Aidan cracking a smile at how everybody in attendance seems to know every word to a song that had been released to streaming services just twenty four hours earlier. It’s Not Forever also features a rerecording of Freshman Year which had dropped along Jake Halpin on the No Promises EP back in 2018. The updated Freshman Year is leagues better than the already fantastic original. While the heightened recording quality goes a long way on its own, it is remarkable how much more of a command of their sound Jail Socks seems to have. Where the line “Please stay an extra fifteen minutes // so I can hold you one more time” felt like a halfhearted last ditch request in the original recording, the weight of the world is dropped on the “Staaaaay” in the update, with the whole gang backing up the vocals, in a way that makes the request feel like its coming from the heart. When I put the track on in the car my mom asked “I love this song, whats it from again?” as if she had heard it a hundred times before, and I’d bet she won’t be the only one with that reaction.
My only complaint with Its Not Forever is I wish it was longer. All six songs on the EP are gorgeous and unskippable. No song has a traditional verse/chorus/verse structure and yet they are as memorable a collection of tunes as I’ve heard in the genre in some time. Jail Socks is anthemic in a way that no band in the scene has been since Modern Baseball and they don’t even have a half hours worth of music out. I cannot wait to hear everything that Jail Socks has ahead of them, though It’s Not Forever will certainly satiate my appetite in the meantime.
Check out Jail Socks new EP It’s Not Forever on Spotify, Bandcamp, or Apple Music. You can pre-order a physical copy of the EP at the No Sleep Records Store and check the band out on Instagram, and Twitter. Thanks to Zach Allen (@sackallen on insta and twitter) for the black and white photo at the top of the article and to Olivia Keasling ( @o.kayolivia on insta, @residentkilljoy on twitter) for the color photo above.