So ok, I out heavied myself last time, and I'm on a bit of an emo trip at the moment. One of the areas where this style of music (punk, hardcore, emo whatever) does have the edge, is in terms of good distros at cheap prices. One such distro that deals in the emo side of things is Subjugation. So, armed with a copy of Fracture itís time to check out some lighter moments. You canít rock hard 24 hours a day. Now, it has to be said that the lover of "heavy" is going to struggle with this. The lover of real "hard" hardcore will as well I guess. Thereís an element at times that I think it comes close to crossing over to the "indie" style of music. If that happens, so be it. But itís just pointing out that you need to approach from a slightly different viewpoint. But thatís kind of part of the fun of music, the diversity.
Syp versus Spy.
And this lot have a lot to live up to. Voted best UK band in the recent Fracture zine readers poll, it was time to invest. And it only cost a fiver from Subjugation. Back it came, and we have 6 tracks to meander through. And the first of those 6 is Game Ruiner. Now, I'll admit upfront that my knowledge of this genre is relatively limited. Sensefield, Chamberlin, Texas Is The Reason, Jets To Brazil, some Sunny Day Real Estate, Far (yeah, I know many will disagree with their inclusion and that's it really.) So, if I start comparing the band with those, then it's because it's what I know. And you know, that's the leadin to a comparison. And the reason for the inclusion of Far is because there's moments on Game Ruiner where the vocals remind me of the raspyness of Jonah. Raspy, but still in control. It's like they're trying to straddle the edge without falling over. It's good, very melodic, not at all heavy.
How The Cat Was Invented is a strange name for a song. Well isn't it? Everyone knows the dog invented the cat to play with.
The blueprint here is to nip through a variety of emotions. The guitars kinda jangle, it speeds up, slows down, can be a dense mix one moment, and a spartan guitar the next. The thing I find with this type of music is that unless you are totally in touch with it, you have to persevere. You kind of know that the hooks are probably there, but they don't grab you by the scruff of the neck the first time you play it. But give it a few plays and it starts to worm itís way under the skin. Much like the stand out track, Union Station Still which trades vocal lines between the two guitarist/vocalists and really begins to drive in. First time was "hmmmm", now itís got common, drops itís hís and is more "mmmmmm". So there you go. There actually seems to be a flourishing scene for this style in the UK. SvS, Schema, The Babies Three, Grand Central, Sunfactor.
To be fair as well, I often go off on a trip about hardcore and punk being metal in disguise. I can't level that accusation here. There's no chug guitars or guitar tone. But it's not punk either. It's just it's own thing. And maybe in this day and age, that's about the best compliment you can pay to music.
Contact: Spy versus Spy 11 Court Lane, Wolstanton, Newcastle, Staffordshire, ST5 8DD.
Available from: Subjugation
The Babies Three - Homosexual Love Ballads
Great title huh! Anyway, this one was sent to me, and seems to fit quite nicely into the general theme of this page. Another UK band doing that emo style thing. And doing it with style. Itís one of the genres that I didnít manage to get on the CD last issue, but if it happens again in the future will be rectified.
Anyway, I like this a lot. They kinda describe themselves I guess to fit in with the emo sort of thing, but from a personal point of view I find that somewhat restrictive, in that emo has a style that TBT also have, but they have more than that. Itís a little chunkier, a little punkier, a little more rounded, a little more variety, just a little more ... well quality really.
And thereís a quote from the end of every Scooby Doo show in here "yeah, and Iíd have gotten away with it if it wasnít for these kids and their blasted dog." Anyone that acknowledges the genius of that cartoon deserves greatness (unless they think that Scrappy Doo was good. He wasnít. Utter shite. Destroyed the show. Sorry, CD review going on wasnít there).
The album starts off very mellow and introspectively with the first track, which leads to the cry of "Man I thought you guys were punk" and "1 2 Fuck You" leads into track 2, a track that reminds me of the Dead Kennedys. This is followed by a track which has a guitar part that could easily have come from Soul Asylum before lyrically it kinda takes off, or treads the same ground as Green Days ??? It's kind of in the same musical playground as well. Confused yet? Yeah, well it's what I was saying about being a bit more rounded and all that business.
Ooo, ooo, track 4 has just contained an immortal line, "I listen to Dead Kennedys, not talk show celebrities." Yeah, that gets my vote then.
Personal favourite is probably the last track, NME Is The Enemy, which also happens to be the longest and twists it's way through a bunch of styles, from groove ridden, to noise, to almost loopy laidback relaxation as the album fades into the setting sun. Nice.
Man Iíve just listened to it again while trying to write this review and Iím just begining to realise exactly how much I like this. You know that feeling how it creeps up on you "well yeah, itís pretty good". And then you realise just HOW good. Go on, give it a go, you know you want to really.
Available on Geek Scene Records.
Imbalance - Spouting Rhetoric
One that Iíve been after having seen them on a couple of all dayers over the last few months, I eventually picked it up for 8 quid at the Earth Crisis gig. Imbalance are from Grimsby and offer a much more melodic and accessible slant on the hardcore sound being put around by no end of bands at the moment. The title track, Spouting Rhetoric opens, and has both the honour, and the problem, of being the best track on here. Thatís not to say that the rest is bad, because itís not, not by a long way, itís just that it fails to scale the same heights.
Track 2 is more an old style punk attack on things, and thereís moment when the vocal style reminds me a little of Beddis from the Cowboy Killers.
Lyrically the songs deal with a whole host of subjects that tend to get covered a lot in this scene, but Imbalance are doing it in an interesting story telling manner. And in some respects, that can heighten the impact of tracks such as Heroin and Mutual Respect. To be honest, I canít decide. Itís not bad, but I was aniticpating being blown away a lot more than I have been, based on the live performances. Going to have to try some different tactics I think to make better friends with this, cos I really want to.
Available on Household Name Records: