(album art: Carolina)
Mark Chen, Aaron Kovacs, and Matt Gomez played music together for half a decade under the name Summer Vacation. In 2014, that band parted ways with guitarist/vocalist Sean Arenas, and changed their name to Winter Break. The tongue-in-cheek name is no surprise – Summer Vacation (and hence Winter Break) is a band that doesn’t take themselves too seriously, boasting lyrics as diverse as “all praise the joys of masturbation” and “when I’m alone I want to die” and songs that were above all, fun. SV played a style of pop-punk that was informed by dissonant emo and post-hardcore as much as it was by Weezer and Chinese Telephones, and by the sound of Winter Break’s first two singles, “Kirk Camoron” and “4:49”, it’s likely they’ll further explore the territory they navigated as Summer Vacation.
Their debut LP comes out May 19 and will be released collaboratively by Lauren Records (run by Winter Break’s drummer Aaron) and legendary South Bay label Asian Man Records. “4:49” and the songs they’ve been performing live are all over the place in their influences, but it somehow works. There are songs with hardly any repeating parts, verse-chorus pop-punk songs, and twangy folk-influenced songs. Sometimes there are weaving leads that sound like early Modest Mouse. Mark’s vocal delivery is one the constants that ties the wide range of influences together – ranging from gravelly shouts to strained highs. Joyce Manor recently confessed to the influence of Mark’s distinctly melodic aggression in their own song writing.
Despite not having formally released any music as Winter Break, they perform almost constantly in the greater Los Angeles area and are heavily involved in the California music scene – booking shows and curating other pop-punk/indie releases under Lauren Records. You can catch them later this year at San Jose’s Think and Die Thinking Festival and pre-order the record here. Check out the video for “4:49” below which features some sort of plot about drinking, some short board tricks, and instead of human faces – shapes filled with clouds and colors.