Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Number One Defender Calendar

March 21, 2004

I may not be the best person to review #1 Defender’s latest album, as I have a history with them. #1 Defender was the very first truly independent emo band that I listened to, and therefore hold a special place in my heart, no matter what they release. But I have put my undying support for them aside, and I will look at this with an even hand.

The Defender has never actually released a full album. “The Diary Truthful” EP is actually the third EP from this highly talented ensemble. There is a good reason for this onslaught of EPs: the average #1 Defender song clocks in at 6 minutes of length, with some going up to nine. If they ever released a full album, the length would be enough to crush any reviewer. But enough dispute on song length. Off to the music.

From their heavy inaugural release “The Lana Lang Effect” EP to their hyper-melodic last release “Shattered Dreams Walking in a Red Moonlight” EP, they have run the gamut of emo sub-genres. On this release, they start combine both the intensity of “Lana Lang” with the melodic mindset of “Red Dreams” to start creating a sound all their own. The drastic contrast between sloppy, cathartic explosions of sound and naive, swooping, blissful washes is what propels their sound. Their songs are forever long because they like to contrast as much as possible.

Their epic for this album is entitled “Remember How to Fly”, a nine minute diary entry that shows us melancholy, happiness, anger, depression, and numbness in one cohesive song. It’s hard to describe, because it crams so much into such a small space. Thanks to #1D’s tendency to pile on contrasting emotions, “Remember How to Fly” is fantastically entertaining, because you truly can never what’s going to happen next. There is no verse-chorus-verse structure. This is sporadic to the max.

In fact, all these songs are fantastically entertaining. The guitars are versatile, the bass playing is MUCH improved (it actually contributes to the sound this time around), and the drumming isn’t the most complicated thing ever, but it fits and keeps #1D moving forward. The vocals fit much better than they ever have, matching melodicism with melodic sections, and screamed, biting, barked vocals in the chaotic sections. They’re tighter in the places they need to be tighter, and sloppier in the places that they were too uptight. They still could be looser in their vocal performances, but I’ll be happy with how much they’ve improved.

I still can’t find anything wrong with #1 Defender. They know their instruments, they know how to write a song, and they have emotion to back it up with. There is nothing that you could dislike about the Defender. I will permanently look forward to new music from the Defender, as they are quickly becoming one of the most reliable, dependable, and trustworthy bands in emo.

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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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