Photo: Devon Keller
Cleveland-based alt-rock outfit Groundstate introduces their sophomore album, The Things We Leave Unsaid, via Auspicious Recordings/Wolf Entertainment. The album was produced by Jim Wirt.
Vocalist Connor Smith explains, “‘The Things We Leave Unsaid’ is a profound and sonically intense record that explores a variety of themes throughout its 11-song run, with topics ranging from addiction and relationships to intrapersonal reflection of the past. This record captures an important point in time for us as a band, and I think that really translates into these songs.”
Groundstate was formed in 2014 when brothers Connor Smith and Aidan Smith began writing music informed by alt-rock flavors of the late ‘90s and early ‘000s, followed by performances at the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and Tri-C Rock Off. Since then, Groundstate has shared the stage with Saliva, as well as receiving beaucoup airplay via radio stations.
Talking about working with producer Jim Wirt, guitarist Aidan Smith says, “In a modern era where so many lean on the ‘in the box’ approach to recording and live performance, we really wanted to record an album that has an analog feel. Knowing that Jim Wirt has done some of our favorite albums really helped motivate us to record songs in a similar way, without the comfort of what so many bands may be doing these days. We love that approach as well, by the way, but for these tracks, we’re going old school!”
While Connor adds, “The cool thing about Jim is that everything is organic, real drums, amps, and sorting through your own pedals and gear he has laying around the studio. It has that live feel that captures the real emotion of the songs and lyrics.”
During the album recording process, Aidan Smith also contributed guitars on the latest Centershift album, A Different Shade of Color.
Encompassing 11 tracks, the album begins with “Floating Away,” opening on edgy, strident guitars flowing into thick layers of growling density as Connor’s evocative voice imbues the lyrics with sensations of incipient loss.
Highlights include “Perfect Timing,” brimming with chunky guitars riding a tight, potent rhythm. A stellar guitar solo infuses the tune with uneasy tension, providing a cathartic release of energy.
Speaking about the song, Aidan shares, “‘Perfect Timing’ is a song I penned the lyrics to during a particularly intense period of anxiety. I’ve struggled with mental health for my entire life and it’s something that’s extremely important to me. Writing songs has always been the best form of therapy for me, so this song really helped pull me out of a really dark place. It was pretty messed up, it got to the point where it was like ‘Ok, either I try suicide, or I find a way through this.’ So writing this song was my way through it. Having this song come out, I’m really hoping that someone else who really needs help out of a fucked-up place hears it and is able to find some comfort in it. It helped me and I want it to help as many other people as it possibly can.”
The rumbling drum-filled intro to “Same Mistakes” sets the stage for heavy, gleaming, snarling guitars and Connors vocals, ranging from tender to passionate as he narrates intimate emotions. The slow and low surfaces of “Winning Numbers” give the song a dark, drifting substance, poignant and yearning.
A personal favorite, “Persona” features thrumming guitars and finessed percussion, giving the tune a stilted, oblique rhythm that runs into a deliciously alluring chorus.
“Simple Head” ties the album off, traveling on hefty guitars exuding shadowy textures, injecting the harmonics with viscous urgency.
Wow! With The Things We Leave Unsaid, Groundstate pumps out waves of compact alt-rock, thoughtful lyrics, and memorable vocals.