CD Release - The Swear: Cross your heart

Elizabeth Elkins resurrects pop punk

Wham! and Waylon Jennings don’t usually pop up as influences in most bands of the pop-punk persuasion. But Elizabeth Elkins, vocalist and guitarist for Atlanta’s the Swear, says they’re both lurking in her band’s melodies.

“Shuttered Off Christine,” the second song on the band’s latest, Hotel Rooms and Heart Attacks, is close to a Wham! song, she says. “There’s been times, live, I’ve switched the lyrics to see if anyone’s paying attention,” Elkins confesses. On the country side, Waylon, Willie and Johnny Cash have long been favorite sounds. “There’s some great lyrical things that happen in some of those songs that goes into my brain for influence.”

But what you hear up front sounds more like Chrissie Hynde and Gwen Stefani squeezed into one body and backed by a hardcore blend of Hot Water Music and No Doubt.

Hotel Rooms and Heart Attacks features a harder sound than most fans are used to hearing live. “People who have seen us live for a long time thought the first album (2005’s Every Trick’s a Good One) was a little quieter and a little poppier than what we are,” Elkins says. “The new album is definitely more aggressive.”

Elkins’ hard-core guitar attack and Stefani-style vocals belie her literary roots. “I’ve always really identified with T.S. Elliot, with a lot of literature coming out of the ’20s and ’30s,” she says. “Ezra Pound, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway just always fit my way of thinking.”

She’s taken some flack about her so-called dark side, including listing Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery as one of her favorite local hangouts in last year’s CL Best of Atlanta. “I don’t think it’s a morbid fascination,” she says. “I just think it’s a very interesting connection to history, and history is a huge passion of mine.”

But all that literary stuff doesn’t take away from the hardcore punch coming from Elkins’ stack of Marshall amps and her powerful vocals. Although the focus may be on things beyond this life, the sound of the Swear will help get you through this one.

The Swear plays Andrews Upstairs w/ Brad Cox. $5. Thurs., July 10. 9 p.m. 404-869-1132.