Consider a blend of Paramore’s female vocals, Weezer’s all-out rock and Warpaint’s quirkiness, and you begin to get an idea for Secret Someones’ debut EP, I Won’t Follow. Alternatively, you can listen to the EP’s title song and acknowledge, as I have already done, that female-driven alternative pop/rock is far from dead, and will most likely continue to thrive thanks to new, rising bands like Secret Someones.
Just who is (or are) Secret Someones? In short, Secret Someones is a New York four-piece rock band consisting of three female songwriters and a guy named Zach Jones. In long, those three songwriters are Bess Rogers, Hannah Winkler and Lelia Broussard. Once upon a time (in early 2013), those three talented women self-booked a house-concert tour through the East Coast and Midwest, with multi-instrumentalist Jones tagging along as a shared drummer. They played as each other’s backing band for weeks; according to Broussard, “At almost every show people kept telling us we should put something together.” Eventually the musicians listened, and Rogers, Winkler, Broussard and Jones shed their individual identities and became Secret Someones.
Having three songwriters in a band is clearly better than only having one, because the EP’s two original songs form nine minutes of musical gold. “I Won’t Follow” features a harmony-filled chorus that captures the song’s defiant, emotional message. Just as you think the chorus is over, you realize that it was, in fact, only the prelude to an even more exciting section – the hook, in which a powerfully catchy melodic line has been employed to make sure the listener never gets the song or Secret Someones out of mind. The song stays strong throughout, with a melody-influenced guitar solo feeding into an electrifyingly emphatic chorus that solidifies the earworm once and for all.
Listen: “I Won’t Follow” – Secret Someones
“Chase Your Shadow” is Secret Someones’ second original track, and serves as confirmation of the band’s talents. A slower and darker piece, “Chase Your Shadow” puts Rogers, Winkler and Broussard’s vocals on display as they weave through a musical tale of unrequited love. The song develops slowly, with Jones’ precise drumwork building up anticipation through verse. “Chase Your Shadow” eventually explodes into a heavy, harmony-dripping chorus, where the singers manipulate their voices independently, but in smooth coherence to one another. The technical harmonic prowess of this chorus is proof that at least one member of Secret Someones was in an a cappella group in college. “Chase Your Shadow” continues to cycle through crests and troughs until it reaches its pinnacle, where the singers’ forceful chorus line turns into a screaming guitar solo. It’s as if they have expressed themselves as much as they can with their vocals: The guitar picks up where the voices left off, continuing to grow that surge as much as it can before the song breaks down and the feeling is over.
Listen: “Chase Your Shadow” 30-sec Clip – Secret Someones
“I Won’t Follow” and “Chase Your Shadow” not only seem to revolve around the same plot, but they also use similar imagery and words to describe that plot. In “I Won’t Follow,” Secret Someones sing, “All this time living in your shadow made me blind to what I needed. I will find what I’m meant to do: I won’t follow you,” and in “Chase Your Shadow,” they sing, “All this time I have been hoping you would let me in, but I can’t chase your shadow.” The overlapping shadow imagery ties these two songs together; whether or not this is foreshadowing a greater story arc within the band’s forthcoming debut album is unclear; only time will tell. The songs’ echoes of empowerment are well-received, but their similarity makes one wonder what else this new band will stand for and sing about.
Secret Someones continue their EP with an impressive cover of Nirvana’s “Breed.” The song shows just how hard these four can play, but feels out of place musically. As much of a fan favorite as Nirvana may be, Kurt Cobain’s dissonant grunge fails to highlight the band’s greatest strength: Thoughtful three-part harmonies are almost entirely hidden beneath a sea of raging hard rock instrumentation. A good listen will uncover this cover’s vocal complexities, but the track sounds nothing like the Secret Someones identity they developed over the first two songs. “Breed” seems to exist more for bragging rights than for anything else: A successful Nirvana cover is a tough feat, and it establishes Secret Someones as a hard rock-leaning band. However, Nirvana has many more songs that could have better displayed Secret Someones’ impressive vocals and musicality. Should they choose to cover Nirvana again, my suggestions include “Heart-Shaped Box,” “All Apologies,” and “Pennyroyal Tea” (all, curiously enough, from the band’s third album, In Utero).
Listen: “Breed” 30-sec Clip – Secret Someones
As if to provide the exact opposite sonic experience as “Breed,” the I Won’t Follow EP ends with an acoustic rendition of the title track, sung with full harmonies for a grand effect. The result differs so much from the electric version that it could easily be a Sheryl Crow cover. In fact, it is a stripped-down Secret Someones proving that “I Won’t Follow” is a hit, electrically or acoustically.
Listen: “I Wont’ Follow – acoustic” 30-sec Clip – Secret Someones
Secret Someones is a definite band to watch in 2015, and I will follow “I Won’t Follow” to the top of the charts when the time comes. It is important to remember that Secret Someones was playing house shows less than a year ago. With the release of this EP, these four are well on their way to greater things. The band spent the past few months on the road with support slots on tours with A Great Big World, Marc Broussard and Ingrid Michaelson. Secret Someones is currently the “special guest” opener for the Cherrytree Presents Sir Sly / Wolf Gang national tour (dates below). If the music and back-story aren’t enough to convince you, then consider this quote from Ingrid Michaelson, courtesy of Secret Someones’ Facebook page: “They’re like Weezer, but with boobies.”
For fans of: Paramore, Ingrid Michaelson, Broods
All Ages = #
8/25 Dallas, TX Club Dada #
8/26 Houston, TX Fitzgeralds #
8/27 Austin, TX Parish #
8/29 Ft. Lauderdale, FL Culture Room #
8/30 Orlando, FL The Social #
9/2 Atlanta, GA The Earl #
9/4 Richmond, VA The National #
9/5 Myrtle Beach, SC WKZQ’s Big Night Out @ House of Blues #
9/6 Charlotte, NC 1065 Weenie Roast @ PNC Music Pavillion#
9/7 Raleigh, NC The 95X Big Shindig @ Walnut Creek Amp#
9/8 Washington DC U Street #
9/10 New York, NY Stage48 (18+)
9/11 Albany, NY The Hollow #
9/12 Boston, MA Brighton Music Hall (18+)
9/13 Philadelphia, PA Radio 104.5 Summer Block Party#
9/15 Pittsburgh, PA Stage AE #
9/16 Columbus, OH The Basement #
9/17 St. Louis, MO Firebird #
9/18 Milwaukee, WI The Rave #
9/19 Chicago, IL Subterranean (17+)
9/20 Minneapolis, MN Triple Rock (18+)
9/22 Kansas City, MO Riot Room (21+)
9/24 Colorado Springs, CO Black Sheep #
9/25 Denver, CO Marquis Theatre #
9/27 Phoenix, AZ Crescent Ballroom (16+)
9/28 San Diego, CA Irenic #
9/29 Los Angeles, CA El Rey #
Learn more about Secret Someones online at www.secretsomeones.com