Xavier's School 

Stay Bold or Get Old

Missoula's DIY-showgoers will recall former local musician Tyson Ballew for his band Cat Heaven, solo project Old Shoes and Tummy Rock record label. After he moved to Bellingham, Wash., a few years ago, he started Xavier's School with four other musicians. The band's new album, Stay Bold or Get Old, is a Ballew vehicle through and through, with emo pop-punk songs that take aim at personal relationships without pulling any punches.

Ballew might write from a character point-of-view, but a lot of what he sings about is ripped from the headlines of his life. "Dear Dad," for instance, is a message to his biological father (a GOP Montana state representative). "Dear Dad," Ballew belts out, "this is the only time I'll write you/ I want you to know I'm not sad that I don't know you/ I had a great father/ he's the one who'll know my daughters/ while you'll never get birthday cards, you'll never get sleepovers."

click to enlarge noise_xavierschool.jpg

The strength of this album is when Ballew finds the line between calling people out on their b.s. and letting a story unfold with specific details, like in "Bulletproof," where he sings, "Well you have my PJ Harvey CD/ Well you give me reasons to believe you got your hands on my Replacements Let it Be."

A couple of the songs, such as "Underage Surcharge," seem to focus so much on the message that the artistic elements of the song fall flat. But for the most part, Xavier's School has created a record that is unapologetic in the tradition of pop-punk but, lyrically, too enjoyable to feel like a preach-fest.

Xavier's School joins Eat Strike, MegaGiant, Ranges, Mido Skip, Scruffager and Buddy Jackson at the ZACC Below Sat., March 5, at 7 PM. $5–$10 donation. All ages.

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