Cementing The Seams

The Plot Sickens

     

Let me preface this post by saying that a post at Last Train To Cool covers this topic much more deftly and in more detail than I am about to. So check it out here.




Richmond, VA bands Malady and Verse En Coma have a lot of things in common. Mostly though, they include members of earlier, much better recognized Richmond emotional hardcore bands Pg. 99 and City of Caterpillar. Spawn of the Richmond hardcore scene, Malady, whose singular self-titled release appeared in 2004 was a departure from the chaos of Pg. 99 and the wandering screamo epics of City of Caterpillar. Malady took elements of each group and mixed them together in musical soup of slower riff-heavy post-harcore while conforming more to the emo sentiment of City of Caterpillar. Fast forward 4 years and roughly the same group of guys release "Rialto" under the name Verse En Coma. Verse En Coma is the next logical step the Pg. 99, CoC, Malady sequence. Rialto moves more in the direction of indie rock but maintains all of the original elements that Malady preserved. Though neither band has recieved the notoriety of Pg. 99 or City of Caterpillar, members of the Richmond cornerstones have gone on to make some of the most poignant post-harcore records since.

For fans of: Pg. 99, City of Caterpillar, A Day In Black And White

Malady on Mypsace


Verse En Coma on Myspace

So, occasionally I'll being doing a list (the top 5 best this, top 5 worst that. You get it right?). And, since it's still pretty early in 2009, I thought I'd start off with my top 5 records of 2008. Sorry if it's a little late.

5. Paint It Black - New Lexicon
Godfather of melodic hardcore and master of the half-time breakdown Dan Yemin (from Lifetime and Kid Dynamite if somehow you don’t know this) returns with Paint It Black’s third studio album. This time took a step in a slightly less hardcore, more melodic direction. Don’t be fooled though, the songs may be longer but Yemin’s signature growl and his rotating backup cast haven’t lost a bit of their ferocity. Hardcore punk should sound just like this. Personally, I think this is Yemin’s finest hour.


4. Cheap Girls - Find Me A Drink Home
Nobody writes pop songs like Cheap Girls. Anymore. They did in the 90’s but that’s beside the point because this was 2008. Suffice it to say that Find Me A Drink Home doesn’t break any barriers or bust down any walls. It’s pretty generic actually. But, as easy as it would be to scoff at the Girls’ debut, it’s just too good. This is undeniably catchy and irrefutably excellent pop rock that plays me like a dimwit’s kazoo every single time. Also, its free!


3. Able Baker Fox – Voices
Imagine two of the most important punk/emo bands currently writing music put their talents together and created a genre juggernaut that would probably shape the way people would write said genres for years. Now, set aside your delusions of grandeur and penchant for outrageous hyperbole and listen to Voices. The debut album from Able Baker Fox picks up where the respective bands (Small Brown Bike and The Casket Lottery) left off with their 2002 self-titled split EP. Voices isn’t particularly inventive as I may have led you to believe with that baited opening, but it is just about the best thing you could expect from a collaboration like this. There are a couple of duds but the highlights of the record are some of the best punk/emo songs in the aether. Of any band that could potentially release material in the future, Able Baker Fox is the one I look forward to the most.


2. Sidekicks - Sam EP
Every time I listen to this record I’m surprised it didn’t garner more hype from the Orgcore crowd this year. Sam was almost definitely overlooked because it was one, exclusively a 7” release and two, on a pretty obscure label (Whoa Oh Records). The Sidekicks are from Cleveland, and Sam is the name of their dead dog. It’s a 4 song punk rock gem and you should have it. If you’re into pop punk or orgcore at all you should love every second of this EP. The Sidekicks are probably the band whose future work I am anticipating (second) most.

1. Riddle of Steel – 1985
I must have listened to 1985 three times in a row when I first heard it and each time it ended I could never believe it was already over. I suppose it’s because the newest effort from St. Louis’s Riddle of Steel never lets up. There isn’t a throwaway track to be found and every song is a slice of some sort of golden pie that manages to taste delicious despite being made of solid fucking rock. This really is the only description the record needs. If you like rock music, you’ll be into this. If you’re the type who enjoys comparison, imagine Jawbox covering Zeppelin. No? Well they sound like Bluetip and Queens of the Stone Age too.

12:24 AM

Emo


Because you are reading this right now I am willing to assume that you are already extremely well-informed. Both in respect to music and the capacity that makes you a decent, upstanding, contributing member of whichever society you may belong to. That being said, it still isn't ok for you to misuse the term "emo".

Read this, it's in 4 parts so don't skip any. It's truly awesome.

Be sure to thank Eric at Can You See The Sunset... for broadening your horizons.


On the list of albums that I foresee being on my “best of 2009” list, Shelflife is the first. A mix of math-rock and instrumental post-rock, Shelflife’s self-titled debut is a monument of both genres. One of my more embarrassing musical admissions is this: I don’t really like instrumental music. This is strange for two reasons: one, I don’t pay particular attention to lyrics, in fact they’re one of the last things I listen to. Two, I appreciate certain music almost exclusively for its composition (e.g. most of the screamo genre, although maybe this is a bad example). Also it’s pretty much just plain silly, but I digress. Shelflife are from Denmark and they play damn smart and only most of their record is instrumental. Oh AND they’re giving it away for free. Here. Shelflife meets somewhere on the sonic road somewhere between post-rock poster boys Explosions In The Sky and mathy (I really misuse this descriptor) emo bands like Seattle’s Juno, or DC wackos Smart Went Crazy. Do them and yourself a favor, download their album and give it a listen. Plus with song titles like “My Several Experiences With Genies” and “Infinite Landscapes of Pillows and Blankets” how could you go wrong.

For Fans of: Explosions In The Sky, Juno

Download



The Gifted Children, an indie pop act from Rochester, New York, have released two full length records this year (and something like 7 EPs). As a rule, I pretty much stay clear of bands that release more material in a year than I can listen to in the same amount of time. But, Always Stay Sweet is making me rethink that utterly irrational (and admittedly uninformed) stance. In the spectrum of “somber indie pop” (think Neutral Milk Hotel) I regard Always Stay Sweet as, “generally a masterpiece”. Nothing about this record is complex or advanced, it’s all just really good. Many of the songs sound like they belong on the a non-existent AC Newman record that came out between The Slow Wonder and Get Guilty. An opus about an ex (from what I gather), the songs follow a pretty simple verse and chorus structure. The beauty is that on most the tracks it’s usually one of each and on to the next. With the longest song (the title track) clocking in at just under three minutes and over half the songs under two, Always Stay Sweet never has the chance to get boring, but I don’t ever get the sense that it would.

For fans of: New Pornographers, Capstan Shafts, Neutral Milk Hotel

The Gifted Children on Myspace


I’m not really a proponent of indie folk/country. In fact, other than some of the genres more recently notable and highly regarded acts (Silver Jews, Fleet Foxes, Bonnie “Prince” Billy), I’d say that I do a pretty good job ignoring it. Occasionally I end up regretting this. Like, a lot. This is also almost certainly why Howe Gelb has flown under my radar for so long. I know this because Gelb isn’t exactly a musical recluse. Giant Sand alone has been releasing records since the 1980’s and Gelb has been involved in various projects for just as long, including releasing solo records and playing in the better known Calexico (a band I actually have listened to before, on purpose). Anyway, apparently this guy is really a force, but I’d have never noticed. Something about Provisions caught my attention though. I can only assume that it’s because it is really accessible to the uninitiated, but maybe I’m selling myself short. What I like about Provisions is its variety, the album starts Waylon and ends Waits. A mixture of country (and I mean country. See: “Can Do”) and wacky roots blues (“Increment of Love” and “Muck Machine” could just as easily have appeared on Rain Dogs) the songs range from delightfully tacky to eerily gritty and everything in between. As a complete package it reminds me a lot of one of my favorite records, “Tanglewood Numbers” by Silver Jews, perhaps this is actually why I like it so much. Appearances by genre sweethearts Neko Case and M. Ward might give you a better idea of what to expect.

For Fans of: Silver Jews, Calexico

Giant Sand on Myspace

So, I planned on starting a blog in a different capacity about 6 months ago. Wrote a couple of things down and evidently kept them. The next few posts are the aformentioned 'things'. Some recieved addendum, others didn't.

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Evidently in the mid 90s all of the Other Men were in a band called Heavy Vegetable. More notable however, is that front man Rob Crow was (is?) the driving force behind indie rock mainstays Pinback for roughly a decade between Heavy Vegetable and reforming the aforementioned group under their new moniker. Rather than a reflective throwback, Wake Up Swimming is a record that makes the band’s otherwise inexplicable name change seem completely logical. A departure from the decidedly weirder style of Heavy Vegetable and the straightforward pop sensibility of Pinback, Other Men seem to borrow more from composition-focused experimental (I use this term loosely) bands like Dianogah and Faraquet. Influences from Crow’s days in Pinback don’t go unnoticed though. His penchant for particular pop injections occasionally permeates each song at some point, however brief, which adds a catchy element most bands in the genre generally lack (or omit). Unlike Pinback however, most songs are in multiple movements and rely on creative combinations of constantly flowing guitar work (there may not be a power chord on the entire record) and unconventional rhythms more characteristic of math rock bands like those mentioned before. Of course, this doesn’t say much, in fact, the genre is pretty much built on that premise. Other Men don’t break any ground, but they build an edifice worthy of some serious reverence. Anyway, Wake Up Swimming is fucking good, it might be one of my favorite records ever. I said it.


For fans of: Dianogah, Faraquet, Pinback


Other Men on Myspace