‘Barely Getting By’ is cathartic, encouraging

South Jersey’s punk rock outfit Gianna’s Sweet Debut celebrated its sixth year with the release of a new EP, “Barely Getting By.” The cassette is due for release in February 2016, but will be available to stream and to pre-order with a digital download at Singer and guitarist Chase Destierro said the EP has a heavy focus on mental health, a theme that is evident in both the lyrics and the tone of each song on the new release.

The first track off the EP, “Rest in Peace, Hopes and Dreams,” immediately launches into thrashing guitar. It’s a powerhouse song with a catchy hook that provides a backdrop to the band members’ yelling on the bridge. The track ends with an audio bite from the show “Twin Peaks:” “How many times have I asked you not to disturb the guests with this racket?” Audrey Horne’s father Ben asks her. “About four thousand,” she replies.

In “Accurate Self Appraisal,” Dominick D’Aversa’s drum beats lead into Destierro’s vocals: “I looked at myself in the mirror. It wasn’t the same.” The song about an individual’s evolution is reminiscent of the band’s evolution as a group. Its last record was a piano-heavy set of songs, while “Barely Getting By” showcases the band’s harder rock abilities.

“Headcase, Sensitive” is another song that demonstrates the band’s exploration of new sound frontiers. A foot-tapping rhythm and fast-paced guitar riffs introduce the track, while determined vocals carry us through to the end. Destierro sings “And I’m depressed and I found that my morale is sinking , so I’ll hold my breath and let it out.” The song has a strong cathartic feel to it.

“Start at All” has a gentler beginning than the previous tracks, demonstrating more guitar plucking than thrashing. Destierro’s shows his range here, singing softly over his own delicate guitar work. “I’m barely getting by,” Destierro repeats as the song explodes into an energetic singalong. Ultimately, it is a poignant finale to a gorgeously-produced EP with an encouraging message about mental health and recovery.

*This story was originally published in NJ Underneath.


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