Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Emo and Other Mishaps

May 1, 2005

Emo and Other Mishaps

It’s that time of year again at the IC- the time of year where we put out an edition. That time of year happens twelve times a year actually….so we did some singles reviews. Here’s some tracks that are notable. Enjoy.

Song: Orca

Band: Wintersleep

Genre: Indie
Album: 2003 Album
Label: Dependent Music (www.dependentmusic.com)
Website: www.purevolume.com/wintersleep

Bottom Line: Stunning.

Indie is a broad term, but it’s the only fitting term for Wintersleep’s enveloping epic “Orca”. Starting off with some simple acoustic guitar and a fragile, breaking voice, this song seems like a simple little confessional- until the band comes in with a “Creep”-like hit that completely doesn’t fit the song. The lyrics are confessional- but the song is not a self-pity sad-box. The song slowly gains momentum, transforming itself into a thumping, stomping indie-rock angst machine. Just when the song can fit no more angst- the band is pummeling away- the vocals are about to explode- the band drops out and a tortured, fractured, cathartic ‘ah’ comes in over plaintive guitar. The hook lyric is repeated. An ending chord is played. The listener sits back in awe. It’s been 3.5 minutes, but it felt so short and so long at the same time. “Orca” is indie-rock at its angst-ridden finest.

Song: 12:58
Band: Yours For Mine
Genre: Emo/post-hardcore
Album: N/a
Label: N/a
Website: www.myspace.com/yoursformine
Bottom Line: Just when you thought emo was toast…Yours for Mine appears.

I never thought that the day would come that I regret seeing the term emo tagged on bands- but alas, I have. Thus, I was skeptical when Yours for Mine claimed to be an emo band. I listened to “12:58” and was instantly set back in my place. The song begins in a nearly ambient vein, with some warm synth noises and a delicate guitar line- but with a machine gun snare fill, the song abruptly turns into a rocker. Then, YFM meshes both the ambient noise and the rock into one elegant, rocking piece. Then, the intro’s finally over, and the singing begins (you thought I was talking about the whole song, weren’t you?). The vocals aren’t whiny, and with the dreamy, complex backing the vocals receive, it’s easy to get sucked in. The song grows upon itself, until it ends in a chaotic coda of two screamers, some hardcore guitar action, and some great drumming that doesn’t rely on double pedal for the basis of the riff(thank you very much, YFM). This band gives me hope for the emo band- “12:58” shows that there are still ideas to be had. We just need the right people to have them.

Song: Hope in Falling Embers
Band: Valign
Genre: Post-hardcore
Album: N/a
Label: N/a
Website: www.valignisaband.com
Bottom Line: Unexpected, yet very welcome.

Valign doesn’t seem like a post-hardcore band, if you give them a casual glance. For one, they have mildly accessible music. Two, they actually have information on their site. Three, they don’t have too many artsy pictures of themselves. Wait a minute, mildly accessible music? Yes, I said that. Their music isn’t dangerously artsy, although it’s still really good. “Hope In Falling Embers” never ‘goes hardcore’- they play an entire 3.5 minute song without falling into the trap of the breakdown. Their sung vocals and screamed vocals contrast perfectly over the mildly rocking backing track (it reminded me more of Showbread than of MeWithoutYou), creating a unique take on the post-hardcore genre. I highly recommend this for fans of the genre, and even for people who haven’t heard post-hardcore before.

Song: I Can’t Love You Anymore
Band: Silverman
Genre: Trip-hop/mellow
Album: N/a
Label: Unsigned
Website: http://www.silvermania.co.uk/
Bottom Line: A good offering.

I was actually referred to Silverman by George Moorey, a British concert promoter and collaborator in Ghosting (www.ghosting.info). One listen to both bands and you’ll see why they go together- both are minimalist mellow songwriters with an emotional bent. Ghosting relies on empty space to create a personal feel, while Silverman creates a vast aural expanse on their track “I Can’t Love You Anymore”. With far-off drums, a repetitious guitar line, and keys that bring the vastness into existence, this is a trip to a very mellow place. Vocalist Anna Dennis comes off almost like a female version of Sigur Ros’s vocalist Jonsi Birgisson with a-lyrical wails that create more emotion than sense (Dennis does have lyrics, unlike Birgisson, but I prefer to not listen to them, because it’s more beautiful without their added weight). Fans of Death Cab for Cutie will find something to enjoy in the similar guitar patterns, while fans of the aforementioned Sigur Ros will also find some new music to enjoy.

Song: War Waltz
Band: Suneral
Genre: Emo/rock
Album: Cold Day Waltz Demo
Label: N/A
Website: www.suneral.com

Bottom Line: International does not mean different.

If nothing else, “War Waltz” by Suneral proves that trends are the same all over the world. Suneral, featuring members from Brazil, Texas, and their current residence of Austria, has all the hallmarks of a good, hard-working new-wave emo band, even if they don’t give anything new to the genre. Their riffs are hard-hitting and sound great- especially the lead intro. The low-end is suitably loud, and the drums add just enough frenzy to the sound. The vocals are the best thing in this band, as Suneral defeats the emo clichés by having a vocalist with a low pitch who actually knows how to use his voice effectively. It’s a very effective song, and it’s sure to hit home with fans of Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, and the like.

Song: All The Children Sing
Band: The Toxic Twinkies
Genre: Rock
Album: N/a
Label: N/A
Website: www.toxictwinkies.tk

Bottom Line: Fun.

Somewhere between jokey 80’s imitation and genuinely interesting power-pop lie The Toxic Twinkies. Their song “All the Children Sing” is such an enigma that it deserves its own paragraph. The instruments in the verses have an odd power-pop feel to them, and the vocals only point out this fact by being equally disjointed and herky-jerky. The chorus smooths out both the vocal line and the instruments, and while the instruments delve intro tried and true power-pop, the vocals come off as a completely 80’s rip. Whether it’s intentional or not is up to the listener’s opinion. There’s not much else here, as the song is only 1:39, but it’s a 1:39 that I think everyone should experience. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, even if it does defy conventional logic and propriety…

Song: Slow Dancing With Your Conscience

Band: I Am Enron

Genre: Post-Hardcore
Album: Demo
Label: N/a
Website: www.iamenron.co.nr
Bottom Line: Good ideas- poor execution.

Many people have said it: “Timing is everything”. In I Am Enron’s case, nothing could be more true. While their guitar lines are unique in the world of post-hardcore, their bassist is great, and their vocalist doesn’t suck, nothing lines up right. The drums and the guitar seem to be at odds, and the vocalist seems to be taking shots at both of them. The bassist seems to be barely keeping up with the guitarist, who keeps ducking notes in his complicated runs. If you’re going to complicate some runs, make sure you can do all of it first. The screaming puts the nail in the coffin- they’re completely out of time when they come in. And all this in the first 1:45. The last 1:30 isn’t bad at all- things tighten up, and it generally sounds like some good post-hardcore-ish rock. Once they work out their timing issues, I Am Enron will be good stuff. At the moment it’s just annoying. Put it in the “Come back to it later” files.

-Stephen Carradini

independentclauses@hotmail.com

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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