Most solo projects seem to fall into one of two categories: Those that resemble a simpler, stripped down version of the artist’s primary band and those projects that allow the artist to express a separate side of their musical identity. Graduation Speech, the solo endeavor of Kevin Day (who leads pop-punk grumblers Aspiga), some how fits both categories. On the project’s debut EP Quiet & Calm, Day takes his band’s songwriting approach and extends it in a moodier, more tender direction. Certainly, Day’s unmistakeable voice—sweet, dazed, lovesick—make it easier to hear Aspiga in Graduation Speech. Combine this with the churning chords on “Aching,” and Day’s songs become characteristically his; drown these songs in distortion, add a ringing baseline and punchy drums, and they become Aspiga songs. Other tracks, though, feel more like a departure. “Daydreams” feels darker, colder, but more sentimental. Day’s lyrics paint an intimate portrait of a day spent indoors with one’s love: “Will you dance with me on the kitchen floor? My daydreams are spilling out of my tiny skull,” he sings, allowing his acoustic chords to chime behind him. In fact, Quiet & Calm is full of hopeful songs—as honest as any that Day has recorded with his primary band, but with a shinier silver lining, perhaps, and a sweeter delivery. More importantly, though, Graduation Speech manages to do what most solo projects cannot—that is, appeal to Aspiga’s fans while letting Day explore another side of his songwriting.
FAVORITE PIZZA TOPPING: Another pizza.