“It’s been a long time / since I rock and rolled / But you never forget / how to do that stroll,” exclaims Draft Week vocalist/guitarist Kevin McNamara with a knowing wink to Led Zeppelin during his band’s sultry “Give In To Me,” and it’s a telling line that gives some insight into the quartet’s fervent energy and back-alley cool. A lot of bands who claim to wave rock’s gnarly, pedal-to-the-metal flag forget the intricacies and innovation that go along with it. True: Sometimes a great rock and roll song can be just four chords, but rearrange them all you like and they can only get you so far. What’s refreshing about Draft Week’s style is that they incorporate rich dynamics and throw a wrench in atypical song structures, while still remembering to keep things consistently hooky and worthy of massive sing-a-longs.Though McNamara, Mike Zevin (bass, keys, back-up vox), Mikey Plahm (drums) and Chad De Leon (lead guitar) all performed in rival bands in high school, they eventually started Draft Week together in 2009, during their college days.
Through two national tours and three self-released EP’s, the band has racked up prized opening slots for the likes of Taking Back Sunday and Motion City Soundtrack. Locally, they’ve played some of Chicago’s most renowned venues (Metro, Congress Theater, House of Blues) as they continue to build a solid fan-base from their home area of Darien.
With a massive rhythm section, fiery guitars and McNamara’s elastic vocals, one can hear echoes of The Mars Volta in the band’s DNA, especially on the stunning “New South,” which begins and ends with incredible restraint, but sports a crushing all-out rock flair throughout it’s core. “Daylight Savings” wins thanks to Zevin’s active bass and a series of well-devised breakdowns, and even as they go acoustic on “The Sophomore,” it’s not an ill-fated attempt to contain their raucousness without electricity. Instead, true songwriting chops shine through and we get a different side of Draft Week that’s equally as enjoyable as their slinky, arena-ready grit.