Music: Bad Seed Rising’s ‘Charm City’ EP is not charming

The grungy fashion of the album art, featuring lead singer Francheska Pastor, is hardly reflected in the music. Source: Warner Music Group.

The grungy fashion of the album art, featuring lead singer Francheska Pastor, is hardly reflected in the music. Source: Warner Music Group.

Sarah Ramos

Emerging rock group lacks edge and uniqueness.

With a grungy cover and raunchy song titles such as “Timebomb” and “Wolves at the Door,” it initially appears that Warner Music Group’s new underground rock group Bad Seed Rising wants to be taken seriously as a rugged, angsty band. The group released their debut EP ‘Charm City’ on April 15. The Baltimore-based band is fronted by Francheska Pastor and backed by Mason Gainer, Louey Peraza and Aiden Marceron. All four members look no older than 18, and their beanies and leather jackets give off a “try-hard” vibe. The same can be said for their music.

Remove the vocals and their instrumental riffs could be mistaken for any other garage band trying to make it big in the music business. With five tracks on their EP, one would expect a power ballad mixed with some interesting hooks and outros — but there isn’t one. It’s hard to tell if Pastor is talented in the vocal department since most of her “singing” is essentially rhythmic speaking. Her voice lacks the heaviness that is characteristic of rock music, and Bad Seed Rising identifies as part of the “rock” genre. Pastor’s voice is merely a Pat Benetar impersonation with a little bit of Carrie Underwood (minus the country and western). In future albums, perhaps we’ll hear tracks that show off her vocal range (that is, if she has one).

[youtube link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVYRNgCKe0k” width=”590″ height=”315″]

The album’s first track is a self-titled song in which Pastor proclaims herself as a “bad seed rising” and that she “ain’t a good girl no more.” Self-proclamation of this type hardly shows that she and the rest of the group are the rebels they make themselves out to be. Furthermore, track 4, “King Kong,” explains that Pastor feels like “King Kong when you sing my song.” Lyrics are not always meant to be taken literally, but these are too cheesy and cliché for a “rock” group.

Rock music is meant to be risky. Rock is Jimi Hendrix setting his guitar ablaze at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival. Rock is The Rolling Stones releasing “Sympathy for the Devil” and the media labeling them as Satanists. Rock is Kurt Cobain’s greasy hair paired with his dark and raunchy lyrics. Evidently, the best rock music is never safe.

Perhaps comparing Bad Seed Rising’s first EP to some of music’s greatest ever is the wrong way to go about this, but then again, the music industry doesn’t take it easy on bands because they’re new. Even looking at Bad Seed Rising next to Blink-182, a punk rock band popular in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the former still falls short. Blink-182 lead singer Tom DeLonge had a nasally, yet noteworthy, voice that worked surprisingly well with their angsty and rebellious lyrics. Blink-182’s albums presented a variety of songs featuring heavy metal-esque profanity but also sensitive riffs. Bad Seed Rising lacks any variation among their tracks, and while Pastor doesn’t have a bad voice, it’s forgettable.

[quote_left]Referring to Bad Seed Rising as a rock group is equivalent to labeling The Beatles as a rock n’ roll band — they’re not.[/quote_left]
The grungy fashion of the album art, featuring lead singer Francheska Pastor, is hardly reflected in the music. Source: Warner Music Group.

The grungy fashion of the album art, featuring lead singer Francheska Pastor, is hardly reflected in the music. Source: Warner Music Group.

Referring to Bad Seed Rising as a rock group is equivalent to labeling The Beatles as a rock n’ roll band — they’re not. The Beatles sang of teenage love and peaceful messages. During performances, they dressed the same and bowed in unison. The Beatles were safe. ‘Charm City’ is safe. While record companies targeting younger audiences want clean lyrics, Bad Seed Rising’s goodie-two-shoes vibe is a major turn off. Rock music requires a sense of weight that comes with heavy guitar riffs and innovative percussion. Gainer, Peraza and Maceron’s instrumental riffs are not all that heavy or powerful. Sure, it sounds like rock, but it’s the kind of cookie-cutter rock that can easily be mistaken for any other goth-rock group. Of course, words that need censors and innuendos that make parents’ skin crawl don’t hurt. What’s the point of heavy, angsty music if the lyrics are mother-approved?

’Charm City’ shows that Bad Seed Rising “talks the talk” more than they “walk the walk.” Overall, the band lacks a unique sound and memorable lyrics that you find yourself singing long after you’ve set your headphones down. Bad Seed Rising wants to be taken seriously as a rock band, but as we look back at all the great rock music of the past and present, Bad Seed Rising has a long way to go.