Ford the River – Worst Case Ontario

In an ever changing, post pandemic musical landscape, Lancaster, PA – aka Amish Country – seems like the most ironic yet logical place to find a pop punk powerhouse. Many may think of The Menzingers when eastern PA is mentioned, but Ford The River has been consistently perfecting a sound akin to groups that ushered in the early 2000’s pop punk revolution for a while now! Their latest release, Worst Case Ontario, is a three song EP just shy of 11 minutes and packs a punch with its catchy hooks and melancholy lyrics that are sure to have you revisiting memories of Warped Tours past. 

The first song, “An Introduction To Jumping Off Bridges”, sets the tone immediately with an echo of guitars coupled with introspective questions that one might ask themselves on their journey to self discovery. The drums and lead guitar kick in to carry you through the verse and march into a choral crescendo reminiscent of bands like Simple Plan or Jack’s Mannequin. “And I’m sick of building bridges, just to jump off of them…” figuratively captures the feel and message of this song and may cause random fits of scream singing on your morning commute or late on a Friday evening after a long work week comes to an end! 

The title track debuts FTR’s newest edition to the band and a familiar but slightly more ’96 Less Than Jake sound. Gated guitars give way to drums, rhythm, and a trombone that rips through the static and demands your attention from the start. Keeping with the apathetic life changes theme, “Worst Case Ontario” speaks to the struggles of day to day life and just trying to cope with those challenges. The breakdowns before the choruses are sure to bring back memories of LTJ tunes like “Automatic” and “Sugar In The Gas Tank” where the horn really gives this jam an anthemic feel. 

“Better Living Through Quiet Quitting” rounds out this release with some key elements of any pop punk song and further solidifies WCO as a must listen for any fan of the genre. The song starts with a bass slide that helps drum up the intensity before breaking into an angst riddled verse. The driving rhythm continues building through a breakdown and second verse before firmly declaring, “Life is one big compromise, work a job and then you die…I wanna feel alive!” A sentiment that really resonates throughout the entire EP and sets up one of the catchiest hooks you might hear from old Drive Thru bands like The Starting Line or Home Grown to close it out. 

Overall, Worst Case Ontario sprinkles cynical (sometimes satirical) lyrics into a melting pot of crisp, clean guitar work, thunderous drums, and hints of brass to create a genuinely unique pop punk EP. It plays like a modern day Office Space movie, but also leaves you wanting more. This release may not rival Taylor Swift’s next single, but I CAN assure you that you’ll be screaming “I wanna feel alive!!” by the end of it…and hopefully curb any abuse of that cantankerous copy machine!

Jim has been a part of several music scenes over the years. Currently, he plays guitar/books for Morgantown’s Controlled Chaos, in addition to laying down the low end for Bunker Hill Celt punks, Common Run. When not playing/attending shows, you can usually find him at a local car cruise in or taking a road trip to see friends or family.

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