First off, I want to comment briefly on the supposed new "screamo" movement. The music industry whores like to observe unexpected success and drum up pseudo trends to sell records. Look at "grunge" ten years ago, and the bands involved: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains� did anyone ever notice that these bands sounded nothing alike? Then punk was cool for about ten minutes, then swing, then ska, etc. Blarg.
The contrarian in me likes to dislike bands that are blatantly marketed under such banners, but the aesthetic twat in me wants to listen to each band individually and ignore completely the marketing. More power to the twat.
Well, the latest trend (besides that fake-ass garage rock movement) is "screamo," you know, heavier emo. Like "grunge," the reality of the situation is that you have a wide range of music with an inappropriate label. I mean, how is the sugary songcraft of Jimmy Eat World anything like the frenetic, dissonant rage of At the Drive In? Most of these bands (e.g. Poison The Well, Glassjaw, Thursday, At The Drive In) sound more like Fugazi than fuckin' Belle and Sebastian. Thank GOD. But yeah, don't be fooled by labels, and keep an open mind.
SPARTA - Wiretap Scars (Dreamworks 2002)
Rating: **** (out of five)
kindasoundslike: At The Drive In, Fugazi
Well, At The Drive In broke up (boo), and the erstwhile members formed two bands in the wake of its dissolution: Mars Volta and Sparta. I haven't heard Mars Volta yet, but the that's the one with ATDI's singer.
The album opens up with this rippin' track called "Cut Your Ribbon." It has an ambiguous feel that seems to shift from major to minor (are there any music geeks in the house that can name the mode that has a major 3rd and minor 7th?), but more importantly, the riff is HUGE. Reminiscent of Quicksand's second album. If the whole disc kept up the intensity of the opening track, this album would be 5 out of 5.
I won't avoid the inevitable ATDI compariasons. The vocals aren't as shrill and urgent, and the lyrics are a bit more conventional.
At the Drive In: "Corduroy, satin nailed jewelry lips/ while the guillotine laughs again"
Sparta: "This tunnel vision breaks my mind/ dark days leave this world behind."
In general, the name "Sparta" is apropos, given the comparitively spartan production and lyrics. Track 11 is an exception, with cool drum loops, piano, and acoustic guitars to add texture to an intriguing melody line. Overall, an engaging yet challenging album.
THURSDAY - Full Collapse (Victory 2001)
Rating ***** (out of five)
kindasoundslike: The Smiths-meets-(any other Victory band)
Just let me blurt this out: I fucking love this album. It just may be my favorite album as of right now. Thursday is a hardcore band in the same sense that The Police were a rock band. Sure, I suppose technically it's hardcore. But holy fuck.
Where do I start? The guitar parts are obviously written with a lot of care. These guys can take an old vi-IV chord progression, write these interlocking sinuous guitar lines that suggest it, and make it kick an assload of ass. There are a lot of clean quiet parts, open jangly strings, and melody. The rhythm section is perfect for the music. The bass is simple and effective, and the drummer is unafraid to throw in a lot of feel changes.
What really makes Thursday transcend the limitations of hardcore, however, is the singing. The lyrics are pretty damned emo (though not so much that a girl & location are mentioned in every song). The main vocals are very melodic, reminding me of Morrisey (without all that fucking reverb he uses) or Robert Smith (though not so gurgley). Plus there's this other dude screaming in the background, going completely apeshit.
The production has an indie feel (Heather asked me if they were local), but I think it makes the album sound more sincere. In fact, I have almost nothing negative to say about these guys. Buy this fucking album. Now.