Your Best Alternative
Most people never view drummers as anything more than doting timekeepers for their favorite bands (or the guy who is forced to stare at his bandmates' asses for approximately 75 minutes every night). But a number of stickmen have left the kit for the front of the stage and achieved some pretty insane levels of success, from the super rad (Dave Grohl, Aaron Gillespie) to the super, uh, not (Phil Collins, Don Henley).
Jeff Kummer is the latest in a long line of bashers who found themselves having something more to say than, “1-2-3-4!” Having previously drummed for defunct emo-rock troupe the Early November for most of the last decade, Kummer's seen the world, sold hundreds of thousands of records and been put through the music-biz wringer by the age of 25. So how does all of that translate into his first-ever solo release? Well, Your Best Alternative definitely sounds like a record made by a guy who spent the last decade playing in a third-wave emo band. That's a really, really good thing, if you ask us.
Fans of the Early November will find much to latch onto (“Make Plans,” with its chunky, drop-D power chords, could've come off The Room's Too Cold), but Kummer is actually able to best his former band at their Jimmy Eat World-loving game a handful of times, specifically the brilliant “Safe To Say” (which, frankly, is better than most everything on JEW's Chase This Light) and the Gameface-esque “Write Me Off.” One of the biggest surprises about Your Best Alternativeis Kummer's voice — his timbre echoes former TEN leader Ace Enders as well as Jamie Woolford of the largely overlooked pop-rockers the Stereo, with plenty of Jim Adkins-styled emoting, and it's all executed without getting too nasally or generic.
Kummer's influences obviously lie largely in the second-wave emo movement (approx. 1997-2001), and he does an incredibly admirable job at incorporating elements from that wave's forefathers (JEW, the Get Up Kids, Hey Mercedes, et al) without sounding too much like any of them — an identity crisis many of his current scenemates struggle with. Well, except for “Joanna,” which is a pretty hard bite of Weezer's classic Blue Album B-side “Suzanne.” But we'll let that one slide, since the original is so goddamn good, we wish every band tried to duplicate it.