Some people are just really good at things.
You find out that they do something well, and you think that that’s as good as it gets, and then they do more things just as well. It’s impressive, but kind of annoying. In a good way, ya know?
There’s a point to this. At the moment, I’m talking about Stephen Kellner – the mind behind New York City outfit Roderick. Self-written, performed, produced, mixed, and engineered, Roderick’s 12:34 is a one-man-army pop showcase.
As “Dreaming” leads the album in with eerie background noises and muffled voices, not only is the approach that Kellner took with the album Ace Enders-esque, but the sound matches at points as well, especially when the smoke clears and the song dives into something faster and clearer. While their vocals themselves sound noticeably dissimilar, with Kellner’s often leaning more towards a Bryce Avery / Alex Gaskarth sound, their style and approach are comparable, with rising and falling choruses throughout the album (“Awake Before Dawn,” “End of Learning” ) along with showing a softer side (“Guilty Ghost,” “Aim: Sky,” closer “… naïve”).
Time is a main focus on the album. Whether it’s “Awake Before Dawn,” with the repeated mention of “The time reads ‘one two: three four’ / I find myself still stuck on the floor,” or the fear of wasted time in “Signing the Letter,” or again on the appropriately-named “Stop the Time.”
Struggles with the passing of time, with age and that awful thing called “adulthood” are present, too. “End of Learning” reveals the disconnection between a person and their hometown, as Kellner sings “I don’t feel older now / just a little more fucked. / But I guess I’ll call this closure now / as I’m forced to reflect alone while driving through my home town. / All the streets look the same / but I long for covering up new ground.” Later, the quiet “Guilty Ghost” questions what to do when you’ve “reached a new low,” left wanting to turn back.
For as much as 12:34 is energetic and enjoyable, the demerits should be mentioned as well. There are points where it can feel repetitive or recycled. Without paying attention to track titles or ordering, I found myself missing the gaps between songs or mistaking one song’s chorus for another’s, leaving some feeling dragged out or interchangeable.
As the end of the summer draws nearer and nearer, the weather has started to chill, the nights have started to arrive a few minutes earlier, and the shift from radio pop to softer shoegazing/emo/whatever is fit with the season. On 12:34, Kellner wrote an album that could jump back and forth between the two, fitting with that first August night where you can sleep without the air conditioner, but it still playable when it’s mid-September and summer makes one last push.
Release Date: July 15th, 2014
Runtime: 47 minutes
Check Out: “Awake Before Dawn,” “Dreaming,” “End of Learning”
01. “Dreaming (Night Signs)”
02. “The Fall”
03. “Awake Before Dawn”
04. “Signing the Letter”
06. “Stop the Time”
07. “Guilty Ghost”
08. “End of Learning”
09. “Aim: Sky”
10. “Where’s the Whiskey?”
11. “… naïve”
Written by Eric Riley