Album Review: Current Events – Need What You Leave

Some times it takes a few listens to really fall in love with an album. Some of my all time favorite albums were not albums that resonated with me during a first listen. It took time and multiple listens for the songs to grow on me but eventually something just clicked and soon the album was playing non-stop through my headphones. That’s how I feel about the debut EP, Need What You Leave, from Cincinnati’s Current Events. Upon a first listen through the four tracks I found that I was enjoying the songs but, for the most part, they weren’t really sticking with me. As I listened through again and again there were little moments of clarity like a guitar riff that I somehow missed before, a specific inflection that singer Jake Aufdenkamp put into his vocals at just the right moment, or lyrics that hit me right in the feels. Now I can’t seem to get enough of the EP and find myself anxious to hear more from the Cincy quintet.

One thing that I did really love on the first listen was the opening guitar riff on the EP’s first track, “High and Low.” It’s what grabbed me and made me want to review the EP. For this song it was learning about the backstory that truly made me fall in love with it. “I wrote ‘High and Low’ about my difficulties dealing with my mom passing away. The song was built from Robbie’s (Adams) guitar riff which drives the instrumental; it is deceptively complex, but bright and beautiful, just like she was,” says Aufdenkamp. The song is both dazzling and mellow sounding and Aufdenkamp’s soft vocals compliment Adams’s wonderfully catchy guitar riff perfectly. As a listener, you can feel the sense of loss but also the fondness of Aufdenkamp’s memories of his mother.

You’re eased into the second track, “By Design,” with guitars that have a bluesy edge to them before Aufdenkamp’s quiet vocals chime in. For me this track is all about Aufdenkamp’s vocals and lyrics working together and building in intensity as the song progresses. I’m one of those people who really just registers the music first, coming back on later listens to explore the lyrics. While the backing music didn’t initially grab me on this track like it did on “High and Low.” I had to go back and really take the lyrics in, allowing them to envelope me. Only then could I really appreciate “By Design.”

Third track, “A 4 Effort,” really picks up the pace, which grabbed my attention on the first listen through. There’s some nostalgia in the sound for me, reminding me of some of my favorite emo and post-rock acts. The pulsing beat and catchy hooks had me bobbing along to the music and, once again, the track was made better when I took the time to really listen to the lyrics. “I can’t wait to walk out my front door / It’s a beautiful place / There’s some things I can’t ignore / What’s it mean to be alive / Live a little just open your eyes…” I’m not sure if it’s the lyrics or the howl with which Aufdenkamp sings them but this particular part of the song had me going back and listening to it again and again. It’s hard to decide between this or “High and Low” is my favorite track.

Album closer, “Once Before,” takes things back down again. Twinkling guitars open the track dropping back to allow Aufdenkamp’s vocals to take center stage. This is a bit of a slow burner, building slightly after the first verse, then backing down again and staying that way through the chorus where the vocal harmonies are left to pack the emotional punch of the track. It’s not until the three minute mark where the guitars really build along with the vocals and finally fully letting go as Aufdenkamp bellows “I’ve said this once before / And I’ll say this once again.” The track fizzles out and leaves the listener with so many feelings that there’s no other choice but to go back and listen to Need What You Leave again.

What Current Events shows on their debut effort is that sometimes you really need to take a moment and pay attention to the music coming through your speakers. You may be missing lyrics that truly speak to you or musical elements that will hit you at just the right moment. For me, an album that you fall into slowly rather than all at once has a much greater staying power. I’m much more likely to continue to listen to an album like this for years rather than getting sick of it after a few months and letting it fall away.

You can pick up Need What You Leave over on Bandcamp.