Meet Me @ The Altar – Model Citizen EP
Released: August 13, 2021
Edith Johnson // vocals
Téa Campbell // guitar, bass
Ada Juarez // drums
A band that’s shaking up the pop punk scene as we know it in 2021 is US three piece Meet Me @ The Altar. Born through the evolution of the Internet and social media, guitarist Téa Campbell bonded with drummer Ada Juarez via Youtube, covering pop punk songs. The pair later came across Edith Johnson through singer auditions and before you know it, Meet Me @ The Altar was born. Together and alongside fellow new wave pop punk outfit Action/Adventure, the trio are all about celebrating POC inclusivity in alternative/punk music, brandishing their incredibly pop-heavy, easycore riffs in towering waves of excitement and optimism.
First and foremost I gotta say, listening to Model Citizen instantly threw me back to some of my favourite bands from the mid-2000s. Anyone else familiar with City Lights (Beartooth bassist Oshie Bichar’s former band) and Seattle-based alternative/pop punkers Truth Under Attack? What stemmed around what New Found Glory were releasing back in the day with Not Without A Fight (2009) and what Four Year Strong absolutely nailed on 2010’s Enemy of the World, City Lights in particular really took the ropes in pioneering and honing their style around this new wave of easycore back in their prime (2008-2014) and even went on a co-headline tour alongside Chunk! No, Captain Chunk! in 2013.
What feels inspired by the emerging North American easycore scene of the mid-2000s, Meet Me @ The Altar picks up the ashes on Model Citizen and reignites the subgenre of easycore with first single ‘Feel A Thing’, bringing about prolific riffage in similar tones. While the sound is still remarkably heavier than your average pop punk band, these kids are as far away from metalcore as you can get. Like second track ‘Mapped Out’, vocalist Edith Johnson manages to hide her vulnerability so well with a “fake it til you make it” kinda tone. It’s a very real feeling and those that struggle with self-confidence will find solace in these songs.
By the time you get to the halfway point of the EP, you may get a same-same kinda feeling, and it’s true. The lyrical substance throughout the record really only touches the surface of what this band can do, and it could be bigger if Meet Me @ The Altar explored a little more variety in their style. ‘Brighter Days (Are Before Us)’ definitely doesn’t sound as “cheesy” as some of the band’s earlier releases (‘Hit Like A Girl’) and demonstrates Campbell, Juarez and Johnson’s potential to go further in the genre. Johnson in particular shines on ‘Brighter Days’, her vocals taking centre stage finally and propping the band onto a soapbox for the world to see and look up to. These young Gen Zers are on the verge of their biggest breakthrough yet.
‘Now Or Never’ is my new favourite summer jam, and I can’t wait for roadtrips up the coast this summer playing this song full volume in the blistering summer heat of Queensland. That explosive intro riff will suck you in all the way until you’re singing along with the hella catchy, bouncy chorus that will catch you off guard. The song is a thundering standout of Model Citizen and will have you hitting repeat on this tune for the summer days ahead. Harking back to your younger, naïve self, you’ll wish you didn’t grow up so quickly, even moreso when you get a hold of ‘Never Gonna Change’. An anthem for the youth of today, there’s even a thing or two us Millennials in our thirties could still learn from these songs that fit oh so perfectly next to Australian pop punkers Yours Truly.
‘Wake Up’ rounds up this EP with the band’s heaviest, most creative track yet. Are Meet Me @ The Altar throwing a cheeky nod to 90s metal icons System of a Down here? If they are, I promise you now it’s probably by accident because this song sounds so far off from anything heavy metal. From the whispered “Wake Up” to Johnson’s opening line, “oh s****! I lost my cool again…”, the song is inspired from our own frustrations and ultimately sets out to help us get out of our own heads. From the layered keyboard elements colliding with the impulsive guitars and drums, ‘Wake Up’ gives us plenty to think about where the band are headed next. It’s a strong sound for the three piece moving forward.
Honestly, you really need to give this EP more than one listen to be fully convinced by what the band are trying to achieve here. Once you get past the cheesiness and — dare I say it, the Disney-fied sugary-sweet punk sound emerging, you’ll find that Meet Me @ The Altar are reigniting the genre with a brighter spark than their predecessors did before. Throughout six fiery upbeat tracks, the band come out of Model Citizen feeling pretty optimistic about where their bouncy, melancholy brand of pop punk is taking them. With each track presenting as much punchiness and explosiveness as the next, it would have added a nice touch to see these youngsters slow the pace for a moment in an acoustic setting. In saying that though, if all you froth is unlimited amounts of prolific riffs blended with catchy choruses of optimism, look no further than Meet Me @ The Altar to lead you onto the right path of becoming a model citizen in the everchanging pop punk community.
Meet Me @ The Altar – Model Citizen EP tracklisting:
1. Feel A Thing
2. Mapped Out
3. Brighter Days (Are Before Us)
4. Now Or Never
5. Never Gonna Change
6. Wake Up