In their new record, “Old Haunts & New Horizons”, punk rock outfit Mike Llerena & the Nerve emit a fusion of sounds that bring to mind both classic punk and new soul vibes.

The Gainesville, FL ensemble is clear when highlighting their roots. After all, their hometown is the breeding ground of iconic southern rock and punk, including Less Than Jake, Against Me and Tom Petty. It’s almost impossible to escape the influence of these greats when making music in Gainesville, but Llerena and the Nerve choose to stay true to their predecessors while still making it their own.

On first listen, the likes of NOFX and Green Day come to mind as four-chord thrashers blast each song forward, particularly on the album opener “Last Words” and mid-album riot “Stay, Brother, Stay.”

But, interestingly, softer, more soulful pieces a la Frank Ocean also find their way into the fray, turning the album into a mesh of eras that is very pleasing to the ear. This is evident on tracks like “A Long Winter” and “Down by the River” (the latter featuring a striking but not unwelcome string section), where Llerena’s voice drawls slower, the melody clearer and cleaner, marking it apart from the record’s faster counterparts.

The album’s title track is also along these lines, Llerena’s vocals being highlighted here with an extended intro showcasing his range, while album closer “The Catharsis” is just that – a rousing finale to the genre-spanning, all-encompassing album.

The band covers a decent amount of ground over 10 tracks, keeping their foundation solid with flickers of new genres being incorporated. It’s a welcome addition to a usually solid genre, mixing new school and old school on a campus where both are most welcome.

Check out Mike Llerena and the Nerve on Spotify and on their website – https://www.mikellerenamusic.com/.

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Mike Llerena & the Nerve | "Old Haunts & New Horizons" | Album Cover
Mike Llerena & the Nerve | “Old Haunts & New Horizons” | Album Cover

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