Track-By-Track: American Standards – ‘Anti-Melody’

Energetic, unconventional, and chaotic to the core. That’s the new bar that Phoenix, Arizona hardcore outfit American Standards has set. Implementing a signature blend of metal, punk and thrash, this convulsive quartet has spent the last 6 years delivering a blisteringly harsh and lawless style to hardcore music. Their newest endeavour, Anti-Melody (which releases this Friday) is no exception to their relentless career of couch-burning, chair-flipping, head-smashing musicality. Brimming with 90s chunky riffs, dissonant licks, and throat-shredding screams, Anti-Melody serves a delicious frenzy of anarchic musicality- a quality that, once paired with their socio-political lyricism and harrowing personal stories, is nothing short of marveously macerating to the human ear.

Today, we have the utmost pleasure in presenting to you the official track-by-track commentary of American Standards’ Anti-Melody, penned by vocalist Brandon Kellum. A minimal selection of streamable tracks accompany this particular feature, as the album has yet to be released. Nevertheless, we’re confident that Kellum’s bounteous words paint a rather vivid picture, such that his emotional altruism is clearly audible despite the deafening silence of text.


“Writers Block Party”

“Writer’s Block Party” serves as a prologue to Anti-Melody, or even a bridge from our prior release to the new album. It’s the first song that we had music for, but [it was] the last [song] that I wrote lyrics to. Musically, it rips from beginning to end with only a brief departure that quickly builds to crescendo. Lyrically, it’s a glimpse into my anxiety of writing with a much more personal marrative. It’s not “punk” to say it, but the truth is, the further you put yourself out there, the more it feels you have to lose. That said, there’s an urgency and a vulnerability in these songs. “Writer’s” is about overcoming the things that you feel limit you, disregarding trends, and carving your own path. Following your passion and expecting nothing in return other than the experiences along the way. There will be people that just don’t get it, and that’s okay.

“Step outside, find your light. When the scavengers come, be ready to fight. The promise is now at the edge of a knife, and when the blood spills, you’ll know you’re alive. 

“Carpe Diem, Tomorrow”

“Carpe Diem, Tomorrow” is a bit more fleeting. It violently alternates between riffs only to erupt for a brief moment of harmony. We even managed to sneak a guitar solo in there, which is out of character for us. Lyrically, the song is about the fear of taking a different path. [It’s about] the fear of change, rejection, and failure; the fear of being open to a new way of thinking. Do something that scares the Hell out of you every day of your life; keep moving because moving is living.

“Time marches on to early graves that haven’t been dug. I’ve got the shovel, but what I lack is motivation.” 

“Church Burner”

“Churchburner” is one of the more dynamic songs on the record. There’s this interesting contrast between the eerie, almost cult-like group vocals and the screaming that Corey and I trade off. The song is heavily influenced by our current political climate, in which, rather than work together, we seem to be finding more and more ways to divide our society.

“Fear is the fashion they parade down the aisle. Fear is the fashion and it ain’t ever going out of style.” 

“Bartenders Without Wings”

“Bartenders Without Wings” gives the listener something they may not be used to hearing from American Standards: clean guitar. Don’t be fooled, though, the lyrical content makes up for the heavy. It addresses how we approach conflict and desire to place the blame rather than find a solution. Everyone believes [that] their way of thinking is inherently right. So, to truly make progress, we must first understand where the other person is coming from, build common ground, and then go from there. The name is in reference to sitting at a bar and overhearing the type of conversations that the bartender engages in from different walks of life. Now more than ever, they seem to be related to politics or something relevant in the media. In that role, the server generally acts as an impartial listener, letting the patron say what they feel they have to say without argue or interruption… As hard as that may be at times.

“I want to believe that fear is only skin deep and, when staring at the beast, what’s looking back is no more than I am. We’re both trying to understand.” 

“Danger Music #9”

“Danger Music #9” is possibly the most frantic song on the album. There’s an underlying dissonance that builds to the tension of the track. This is also where the album takes a turn towards more personal subjects. My mother was the victim of overprescribed pills which impacted my upbringing and life today. I’ve also known  multiple others close to me who have passed as the result of adverse drug reactions- each of which were preventable if they (and their respective illnesses) were treated as an individual case and not another face in the crowd. The song is a commentary on the state of our healthcare system. The need to put people over profit; to find the root of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms. The song name will also be an interesting one to read into for the more curious listener.

“When people become numbers, we’ll live counting our dead and die watching a clock from our hospital bed.” 

“Cancer Eater”

Another very hard-hitting and personal song. My father apssed away suddenly in November of 2015. Although he knew [that] something was wrong, he refused to go to doctors or tell anyone, including myself. He worked [in] construction right up ’til the day that he was diagnosed with Stage 4 terminal cancer. He only let me know because he wanted an extra set of clothes so he didn’t have to be in a hospital gown. “Cancer Eater” deals with the experience of spending his last days at the hospital with him. [This provides some insight into] the feeling of mortality that I gained from it and the sometimes crippling thoughts I have as a result.

“We’re taken hostage by the ones we love that leave us behind.”

“Broken Culture”

“Broken Culture” is the classic song built on a solid riff. It delves into the role that media plays in today’s environment. Specifically, the ability [that] a headline has to shape our beliefs and the echo chambers that incentive-based views and social media algorithms create. Rather than using the internet to expand our way of thinking, we use it to validate what we already feel is right.

“We don’t need another branded revolution or rehashed poetry. We don’t need another echo in the hall with no one to disagree.”

“Chicago Overcoat”

This song is most reminiscent of our song “The Still Life,” off of our first album. It has a dark and moody feel to it with a guitar that reverberates throughout the entire track. Raw and full of emotion, the song is for our founding guitarist, Cody Conrad, who took his life in August of 2015. He was 23; too young and too talented to leave this world. He had a passion for his art that couldn’t be matched. Anxiety and depression got the best of him. Our lives- and those of the ones he touched- will forever be changed because of it.

“The pain doesn’t end when we cease to exist, it’s inhereted by the ones we leave behind.”

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