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Half Hearted’s New Self-Titled Album Is Anything But

Pop-Rock” is a term that when used to describe a band, in my experience, leans more to the “pop” than the “rock,” signaling an attempt to create radio-friendly music and not simply just well-crafted rock songs. In the case of Half Hearted’s new self-titled release, the band has created a very well-crafted set of songs and very impressively self-produced an album on par with any band’s debut full-length album. Honestly, it may not be entirely accurate to label the band’s sound as “pop-rock”. While the album does have many moments you know will carry well across mainstream rock radio, the band consistently amplifies their sound through a more hard rock approach or twists it entirely with dance beats and maxed out synths. Blending genres is nothing new but when not presented as authentic inspiration can feel cliche or even corny and can be a trap many bands fall into. Instead, what Half-Hearted has created is a hard rock driven record with influences from emo to electro-pop that establishes their uniqueness at crafting songs in a genre where “generic” can become a popular description. 

With a lineup of members that solidified in 2018, band members Sean Dalke (vocals), Jason Grandell (guitar), Parker Fortune (drums) and Nicolas Viglione (bass) moved quickly, releasing their E.P. How To Be Alone and touring the U.S. and Canada. Building on that success, the band took to writing and recording their debut full-length album.

“We spent the first eight months of 2019 sitting in a tiny room writing/recording these songs. We produced the album ourselves, with no outside help whatsoever, and that resulted in 12 very personal tracks that we are unbelievably proud of. This album is for people who are heartbroken and on the shit end of a relationship. It could be a relationship with another person, an idea, or even a personal goal that you haven’t had much luck completing. It’s for the people who keep coming up short, but never quit.”

It is impressive to note that the band took on all the duties of writing, recording, producing, and mastering the album. The band has shown a clear vision of their sound and brought to life an album that reflects that. With vocals that can sometimes soar and present a wonderful amount of angst without ever screaming, singer Sean Dalke presents a heartfelt performance across songs that in one moment express anguish and in the next celebration, sometimes within the same track. Reminiscent of mid to late 2000s emo, Dalke’s voice, and the production of, deliver catchy hooks and keep up with guitarist Jason Grandell. Grandells guitars throughout the album transition from hard rock riffs to airy plucks from track to track and demonstrate a mastery of the sound they are looking for with variety across an album that still manages to simply rock. Sometimes surprising, the addition of synth and electronic beats jumps to the forefront of their songs like on tracks “Breathing Pattern” and “Thinking Bout You” but never feel out of place amongst the other songs and once again demonstrate their ability to craft well written and arranged songs. 

Released on March 20, the band’s self-titled debut album will, unfortunately, have to be all we are able to treat ourselves to as the music touring industry has ground to a halt until the COVID-19 Pandemic subsides. Hopefully, once normalcy returns to the world we may be able to catch the guys perform their new content live. Until then this album presents a lot of sounds to dive into. With catchy well-crafted rock songs layered with lots of levels of sound, I recommend giving it a listen.   

Photographer Josh Gooch is a North Carolina native and a graduate of Appalachian State, Josh Gooch works in education, teaching graphic design at the community college level. Photography became a passion during his college career, and remained a constant addition to the ever-present soundtrack of life. Privileged to have turned an ear to hip-hop at a young age, after developing a love of music from ‘80s radio, Josh found that the revelation of rock music in high school was what led him to really devote serious amounts of attention to music. From there it was that first club show that sparked an addiction to live music and the exposure to various forms of it during the college years, cementing a love of passion and truth in music. Now, with the ability to combine the passions of photography and music, he hopes to continue to develop a creative voice that others appreciate.

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