Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Football, Etc.'s late '90s emo sounds great, hopefully wins new fans to the genre

April 12, 2011

Some bands hate being pigeonholed. Some bands invite it. Football, etc. says straight-up in its press materials that it plays late ’90s emo. The info is sort of unimportant, because they make it clear from seconds into the first tune that this is Mineral, Promise Ring and American Football territory. They love the sound, so they’re making more of it. Nothing wrong with that at all.

So, there’s your first barrier: do you like late ’90s emo? Are you down with the prettier side of guitar-based rock? If yes, continue. If no, do not.

The second barrier: Is Football, etc. good?

The band certainly has a lot going for it. They have a strong female vocalist who fits in well to the sound. They write solid songs that fit neatly within the constraints of the genre. They reference Lambeau Field in a song title, which makes me giddy. The three musicians all know their stuff, chops and pedals included. This sounds right.

As to innovation? Closing track “Mouthguard” features some excellent, quick-paced guitar work that held my attention tighter than anything else on the album. Unfortunately, “Mouthguard” is only 1:24. The rest of the tunes will be beloved by those who miss the days when bookish dudes played wistful rock and ruled the open road, but could shoot over the heads and/or under the radar of those unfamiliar with the genre.

Bonus: each of the ten tracks on “The Draft” is named after a football term (“Safety,” “Incomplete,” “Sideline,” “Hail Mary,” etc.). It also serves as a mild subversive tactic in showing how much the English language has been changed by sports phrases, as each of these terms (except my beloved “Lambeau”) has a double entendre to an event or emotional state. Super-cool.

Football, Etc.’s “The Draft” is a good album that will thrill fans of the genre. The songs are strong enough that they may be able to bring new fans into the fold, if people haven’t heard it. It has been almost ten years since people were rockin’ this thing. I certainly enjoy “The Draft.” I hope other people do as well. You can hear a preview here.

And if you’re in Norman for Norman Music Fest, you should check their set at Opolis at 6 p.m. Friday, April 29. I will be there. I am excited about it.

Norman Music Festival Features: Traindodge

April 28, 2009

Traindodge had one of the earliest slots at the Norman Music Festival, and the opening slot at the Red Room venue. Having reviewed their album On a Lake of Dead Trees at the very beginning of Independent Clauses, I was interested to see what Traindodge had morphed into over the six years since I had heard them.

The guys in Traindodge are an older lot, which surprised me somewhat when they set up their drums/bass/guitar set-up. The Traindodge I knew was heavy…really heavy. They dispelled any uneasiness I may have had when they tore into their first song. Their brand of rock is heavy on dissonance and yelled vocals, but it also features intricate drumming patterns, digital beats, keyboards, and synthesizer backing. These never drop them into kitschy range, though; much like the Appleseed Cast, they use the more melodic elements of their sound as droning backdrops, stabbing asides, and gritty atmosphere.

Their sound was energizing and somewhat mesmerizing; the keys and beats sucked me in, while the guitars, drums and bass pummeled their way in afterwards. These guys can write a rock song, that is for sure.

Another interesting aspect of Traindodge is the fact that they have reached past the point of pretension. They have been doing this for so long that they don’t have to put on a show to make themselves feel comfortable. They could have played to a thousand or half a dozen people (there were about 50 people there, perhaps, by the end), and they would have performed exactly the same. They were having fun, and the fact that they were truly interested and excited in what they were doing for the sake of what they were doing made their set great.

They have a new album coming out at the beginning of June; I would recommend picking it up. Highly recommended for fans of Appleseed Cast, Life and Times, Dredg, Muse, etc.

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

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