Summer is gone, but August will always be in the mind of this next Launch Pad act. We Are Augustines seem to have some inextricable tie to the late summer month. Two band members as well as one of their brothers were born in August. Their former band, Pela, broke up in August. And their debut album, Rise Ye Sunken Ships, you guessed it, came out in August. Despite the band's warm weather name and attachment to the month, their songs transcend seasons and climates.
Rise Ye Sunken Ships has a tragic story behind it. The album was inspired by singer Billy McCarthy's family, most notably his brother Jim, a drug addict and schizophrenic who was sentenced to four years in solitary confinement after attacking a worker at a shelter with a knife. Despite the efforts of his brother and the rest of his family, Jim eventually took his own life while in prison. McCarthy's mother met with a similar fate. She overdosed at a homeless shelter. The only thing she left behind were her children's names hastily scribbled on the back of a business card. Despite the tragedy and heartbreak of his past, McCarthy was able to use his music as a way of dealing with the pain, and as a result, the emotions are palpable, hopeful, and genuine.
Rise Ye Sunken Ships is heartbreaking, obviously, but also an album worthy of repeat listens. It wears its heart on its sleeve, letting the driving drum beats, propulsive bass lines, and ascending and descending guitar riffs work together with tragic lyrics to tell a redemptive story of someone who just can't be saved. The loving video (which we premiered) for the band's single, "Chapel Song," is down below, but this is an intensity you'll want to experience in person.