Local Pop Punk Band Familiar Spaces Reassures Listeners They’re Not Alone with “Everyone in Search of an Exit”: Their latest EP tackles the struggle of feeling stuck and beaten down by life while taking the often non-linear journey back to progress

Photo credit: Madison Peck

If you’ve ever felt like you don’t know what you’re doing with your life, or that maybe you’ve messed up too many times to make your way back to a good future, Familiar Spaces has your back – because they’ve been there too. Like a personal diary entry of emotional upheaval, their newest EP, Everyone in Search of an Exit, is an auditory self-help collection of anthems geared toward making that shift from discomfort and back to a place of peace. In the words of the band, this EP is “a record about recovery, and tracing steps back to progress.” Sonically, all five songs are very cohesive, and they hit the same notes both thematically and emotionally.

Familiar Spaces consists of vocalist/bassist Mike Aylward and guitarist/bassist Evan Lamanna. In the studio, they are often accompanied by Joey Demers on drums. And together, they make music that speaks to the soul, with heavy moments punctuated by various shades and nuances of the alternative genre.

“Not Like it Used to Be” opens up sounding a lot like a folk tune, with acoustic guitar and a subtle droning in the background, but then quickly shifts into typical pop-punk territory with the addition of the drums and articulated lead-guitar phrasing. The lyrics mourn the loss of a relationship (be it a friendship, or a romance) as they say: “I’m not strong on my own anymore / I need some progress / and in my eyes I fell behind / and now I’m asking you to wait.” This song also seems to be grieving the death of opportunities, or what could’ve been (professionally, developmentally, really anything). As a relatively recent college graduate who is still searching for direction, I really relate to these lyrics and the way they beautifully highlight feeling alone and unable to move forward in life while everyone else around you does. It’s heartbreakingly relatable, and a beautiful piece of music overall. 


“In the Open” addresses that worry of saying or being too much and messing up everything. A great anthem for over-thinkers like myself, Aylward sings, “I remember all of my mistakes / and let them sink into my conscience and they hold me there / until I can’t take a breath.” A very poetic and real way of depicting a panic attack, I really appreciate the visibility this band is giving to mental health. Pretty guitar harmonics and resonant strumming mixes nicely with the string section in the background, which lends an ethereal feel to the song. 

“Happy Enough” is a very energetic song, which brings some ironic energy to lyrics like “buried alive under all my aspirations / I am not the man I promised I would be.” Exploring the sensation of numbness and fear of losing what you have in the name of finding something better, this song depicts the very real struggle that everyone faces at one time or another. Similar to the other songs on this EP, it features a mix of bright acoustic with heavier guitar, and even a post-hardcore-inspired drumming after the bridge, likely representing a heartbeat. It’s also got some lovely instrumental dynamics, with the last chorus feeling much lighter and brighter, with just a hint of darkness lingering. 

“You” features a droning that sounds identical to the one in Taylor Swift’s song “epiphany.” It’s probably a coincidence, but I found it to be very mesmerizing, and her song about her grandfather fighting in the war colored my perception of this song filled with a similar desperation. The melody in the second verse after the buildup halfway through is also cognizant of “Second Chance” by Shinedown, which thematically, just so happens to work really well with this overall struggle of feeling inadequate. Lyrics like “it all fell apart again / you’re not yourself / you’re not the same” and “it takes a lot to heal an empty heart” are thought-provoking and deep. 

“Everyone in Search of an Exit” is the title track, and probably my favorite on this EP. It explores the uncanny feeling of being trapped in your own emotions and habits, wondering if there’s any way to improve what seems so deeply ingrained already. “I’ve been looking for some peace of mind / so I’m making my peace with these demons” is a really mature way of looking at things — realizing that maybe the escape, after all, is changing your perception of the things that haunt you. But by far, the lyrics I most relate to are “I’m wondering if there’s color beyond the gray / I’m tired of making myself sick from stressing out this way.” It’s so liberating to hear that I’m not alone in that particular struggle, and I’m sure other people relate as well. Sonically, this song is probably the closest to pop that this band will get, but there are still layered guitars and dynamic cymbal crashes that highlight the emotion of the piece, making the whole thing feel warm and welcoming. 

This band is definitely doing something new and different — both topically and thematically — and I can honestly say that this EP is super uplifting and bright. Thank you, Familiar Spaces, for providing a place where over-thinkers and type-A personalities can curl up with a hot mug of tea and feel right at home. 

Listen to Familiar Spaces on YouTube here: and Spotify here: