Four Degrees is the culmination of the longtime musical partnership between two important movers and shakers of Knoxville’s punk/hardcore/emo scene of the last decade: drummer Robert Koons (Past Mistakes, Tenderhooks, the New Beat label) and guitarist/vocalist Greg Williams, who played together in late ’90s/early ’00s Knoxville bands Lawnboy and Kidsnack. The duo actually came to Knoxville from Indiana in 1997, with the intent of forming a band. So, on the eve of Koons’ move to Arizona, the two friends got together to re-record some of the songs they had originally played as teenagers—providing sort of a musical dénouement of their shared days in Knoxville.
Unencumbered by musical excesses or affiliation to any particular niche, the band delivers short and simple melodic pop/punk with hooks galore. Sounding something like early Green Day, Jawbreaker, or the Smoking Popes, the band provides 13 tracks that, while falling along the punk spectrum, nonetheless exude pure pop sentimentality. The band’s ace in the hole is Williams, a skilled songwriter and excellent vocalist who, unfortunately, didn’t get his share of the spotlight in either of his Knoxville bands. There’s nothing snotty or sarcastic about his singing—instead, Williams croons and cajoles, and he never hits a bum note. There are only two flaws to the album. Williams, who has always downplayed his ample guitar playing skills, doesn’t solo quite as much as he should. And the album flies by too fast—not because of its length, but because its quality is so high that you just won’t be ready for it to end.