Northbound changes direction with Trigger Relief

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Jeff Neukom

 

Jonathon Fraser is not a name the average music listener would recognize, but he very well might be soon with his newest release, Trigger Relief. He is somewhat well known locally in south Florida as the vocalist of hardcore band Sleep Patterns, and one can only hope that he continues with his side act, Northbound.

Northbound’s newest release, a three-track acoustic EP, can be described with one word: piercing. I say this not as an indicator of poor sound quality, but as a nod to his direct and upfront lyrical content.

The guy is only 20 years of age, and yet he is unafraid to pour his true voice into his lyrics. While the topics are not earth shattering, I was mostly impressed by the rawness of album-opener, “Nice Boy,” where he confronts the girl who cheated on him.

Over a softly-strummed guitar, Fraser croons, “I should be over this by now / I should be running on the sand in the sunset with my tongue out / but I am not your dog anymore.” I love the play on words here. The line is a seeming contradiction, and it vividly expresses his confusion, his sense of feeling trapped.

“I guess I f***ing found out / but I hope the sex was good,” he moans on the same track. Poor guy, right? “I don’t think I want to be a nice boy anymore.” It’s a crying shame, and his honesty bleeds through his words. His soft voice remains in a near-cracking state throughout, reflecting his vulnerability.

The album closer, if you want to call it that, “I Want to Hate the World” is a track that greatly benefits from Fraser’s confident vocals. His voice still sounds like it could crack at any second, but ironically it’s where he sounds his strongest.

During the chorus, he goes from near whisper to full on wail, “Please just stay away / Stay the f*ck away.” The instrumentation, while it does take a secondary role, is appropriate if not spectacular, with the acoustic guitar acting as Fraser’s emotional support during a tough time.

Fraser’s punk rock influences are very present on this EP, with three-chord guitar progressions taking on a primary role to accompany his grieving. While is instrumentation is not really outstanding by any means, it is enjoyable and appropriate.

Despite his honesty and frank approach, Fraser’s side project fails to tread new ground sonically. I did appreciate his honesty and upfront lyrics, but ultimately he falls prey to the naïveté lurking for young adults. His misery is the common theme that ties this album together he does it with enough aplomb that Trigger Relief doesn’t turn into a sob story. It’s not an album that will take home tons of medals, but it’s certainly a respectable effort from one of Florida’s young artists.