If you’ve heard the new single and something about the tone, sass, and artistry seems oddly familiar, there’s a good reason for that. Concrete Castles is composed of flawless vocalist Audra Miller, badass guitarist Matt Yost, and always-on-beat drummer Sam Gilmann. You might also know them as cover band extraordinaire First to Eleven on YouTube. That band is still happening as well, alongside their music teacher-turned-bandmate Ryan Krysiak – but now they’ve also branched out into rebranding with new original music. They’ve written and premiered original music before as First to Eleven, but now they’ve got a brand new attitude and a shiny new record deal – courtesy of Velocity Records & Equal Vision Records.
I recently asked the band how they came up with the new name, and Sam responded that it’s a reference to lyrics coming up soon on another song. Color me excited – I love stuff like that. You heard it here, folks – Concrete Castles means something very important to the band, so stick around long enough to find out what exactly that is. I’d wager whatever song it’s in will be an instant bop.
Their premiere single is called “Just a Friend”, and it’s a very clean representation of that all-too-relatable feeling of being on the uncertain end of a secretly multi-sided relationship. Most people have at least one story of feeling like the odd-one-out in the relationship they were supposed to be able to trust completely. It’s awful, no matter how you slice it – but this song is so fantastic, it almost makes up for it. Almost.
My favorite line is easily “I don’t know what’s behind those eyes / underneath all the pretty lies” – it’s equal parts poetic, and accurate to the particularly-frustrating situation depicted here. It definitely has my vote for most-Instagrammable lyric, as well as something they should definitely consider for future band merch.
Speaking from a place of awareness harkened in by my new mantra of “never trust the ex”, this song hits all the right notes. Starting off with arpeggiated guitar chords, the ambient mode is set. “Hiding a smile I see right through you / Tell me the secrets I always knew” are the chilling words of the first verse, smoothly setting up the angsty chorus anthem: “You said she is just a friend / don’t let it get into your head”. Chugging guitar elevates the mood alongside punchy drum fills. Everything feels starkly uncertain and infuriating. Interpretive dancers perform near the band members in the video, which adds another layer of emotional nuance to this honest, raw abandon. This is what gaslighting feels like, and the reason that no matter how nice someone seems on the outside, they still may not be worthy of your trust.
Especially not the ex. Never the ex. I learned that one the hard way.
Concrete Castles is bringing a new voice to the pop rock scene, with clever lyrics that you’ll pick up faster than late-night ice-cream after things go sour. So next time you find yourself nose-deep in a carton of Ben & Jerry’s, listen to Concrete Castles – if this song is any indication of what’s to come, then it’s clear Audra, Matt, and Sam aren’t playing around (unlike the subject of this song).