Normally I don't like to review my friends bands for bias reasons but this Doin' Great album is so catchy and good that I found it necessary. Forged in the fire of hardship and some tough circumstances that vocalist Ryan Ziegler went through as he recently was released from state prison, his actions prove what kind of person he is; he used the time to get sober, get in shape and become a better person for himself and his family. He and the band came out the other side with some really good music, a little more wisdom and sing-alongs that will have everyone piling on and is just the type of hopeful music that we need to get us through this current situation. He is joined by shredders Ryan Svenkeson, Shawn Hackett, bassist Kyle Nargang and drummer Scott Minner, all long time scene members and an extremely talented and polished group by this point, having played together for years in Pennsylvania Hardcore Stalwarts Barricade and Animalhaus. Doin' Great shares some common sound with those bands but is definitely its own entity.
'Far Too Long' starts off an introspective journey "I know that this will be hard to accept, that things have changed and I'll never be the same" which is an understatement. The man has lost half his body weight and is in a struggle to maintain sobriety and is now using his experience to teach addiction recovery crossfit classes. 'Undertow' is the story of someone starting a life of partying at a young age, drinking our feelings and 'wasted months' turning to years and then trying to pull yourself out of the gutter when you realize you're in too deep. Also in this song I hear a shout out to our departed friends including John Barlow with "Brother who was left behind, lost overboard before their time", something a lot of us still haven't gotten over. I personally relate to this song the most due to my time as a young hard partying moron turned alcoholic myself, leaving a lifetime of regret and bad decisions in a cloud of hazy memories. That overall theme continues in 'Come Home' with "So many have moved on, so many have found the grave". The main message of this song is '"Loyalty is all or Nothing", meaning that even though a lot of people have moved on, true friends aren't going anywhere.
'Chronic, Progressive and Fatal' tells more of the story of "Throw it all away for one more day without the pain" and the battle with addiction being a constant struggle. This song is probably the most emotion inducing; you can feel the agony, anger and pain of someone that has gone through an awful lot in recent times which makes the ensuing transformation that much more impressive.
'Thin Ice' and 'Take Me Away' are my favorite songs on the album, both catchy sing-along material and both deeply personal and shows the vulnerability and honesty I've come to expect from punk rock and hardcore above other music. It's OK to say you feel like shit, it's OK to say things aren't great, it's OK to say "Sometimes I don't have what it takes anymore, to keep on going" but then has a message of hope with "Tell me, to keep on going". Having an outlet for these feelings our entire lives is what makes the underground music scene amazing; but at the same time it has also been the place where we developed these bad habits and our coping mechanisms got destroyed by living our lives like Chris Farley.
'Take Me Away' is directly pulled from his experience in jail - "Have you ever felt like this, like the walls were closing in, I'm locked up in my mind, it's killing me not killing time" - anyone that has ever been to jail or prison know how dehumanizing it can be to be a number, a statistic, and the line "Take me away from this fucked up place, Far away somewhere I can escape, I've been gone for way too long" says everything you need to know about the pain and isolation one feels when away. I can't say how proud of this man I am for handling his shit the way he did and came out an absolute powerhouse. They have played a few live shows since this was released and the reaction was great, they play with raw emotion and feeling and the crowd responds. Now it's time to wait for that full length!