Album Review: A Social State, ‘How to Get To Heaven’

Written by Matt DeBenedetti

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There is something about a good rock record that does something magical to the listener. If a person really settles in, and listens to a whole album from front to back, it can have a similar effect to reading a good book, or watching a good movie. It gives you a feeling of satisfaction. That is the exact feeling I got after listening to A Social Slate’s new album, How to Get to Heaven.

I was not surprised at all while researching this band, to find out that they were from Scranton, PA. I’m not sure if what I’m about to say makes any sense, but you can literally hear the Scranton in their sound. There is something so distinct about bands from that area, from The Menzingers, to Tiger’s Jaw, to these guys. As different as they all are, they all have something oddly similar to their sound, and all I can think of to describe it is “Scrantonuity.”

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From beginning to end, this really is a solid record, and that is almost an understatement. The opening track, “Milk,” acts as a short introduction to the rest of the album, and has a very eerie undertone to it that sets the mood for the remainder of the album perfectly. This track immediately reminded me of one of my favorite bands from the UK, the Xcerts.

For anyone thinking about checking these guys out, I would definitely recommend the single of this record, titled “Aging Ego Maniac”. If I were to listen to this album not knowing which track was the single, I would pick this one for sure. It really acts as a synopsis of the entire record in a way, displaying all that this band has to offer and more. Vocalist Ed Cuozzo shines throughout every track on the album, both in the meoldies he uses and the lyrics that he sings, and I think this track greatly displays that.

While listening to Cuozzo sing I am strongly reminded of Jesse Lacey of Brand New, as well as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, and as unlikely of a mix as those two are together, they work well in Cuozzo’s voice. And like both of those front men, Cuozzo uses emotional words from “I get lost at home drinking all alone”, to “I’m 25 going out of my mind” to show that in “Aging Ego Maniac”, as well as the rest of the album, there is no holding back when it comes to his lyrical abilities.

And what is a great singer without a great band to back him or her up? Drummer Nick Ogonosky and bassist Jon Fletcher together, are a great example of how simplicity in a rhythm section can make a world of difference. They know exactly when to drive, when to hold back, and how to really keep the tracks moving along in a way that many other bands are incapable of, while allowing the guitars and vocals to do their thing.

Guitarist CJ Williams also displays great musicianship throughout the whole album, delicately gracing the songs with guitar leads that can easily be compared to those of The Cure, fitting right into place with everything else that is going on.

Overall, I have to say that I really enjoyed this album on first listen, which is a rare thing for me. I have found that it usually takes a handful of listens for me to get into a band, but for some reason these guys struck a chord with me that not a lot of bands do. I think this band has some serious potential, and I will be very surprised if I don’t see big things from them in the future.

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