Posts Tagged ‘post-hardcore’
This album, to put it short: is incredible. From the subtle, braille covered packaging and insert littered with graphs and equations (thats the reason why you only see a plain green cover here, you have to feel the cover), to the moody post-hardcore that lurks threateningly within, this is just the whole package. If there was any doubt before, this proves that Month of Birthdays are one of the most unique, creative, and downright great bands we’ve got on these shores right now.
For much of the album, you’ve got blissful, mellowed, chilled-out tunes to play late at night and lose yourself in the beauty of. It’s all very tidal. Small waves mind you. But every now and again you get caught up in a huge tsunami like “Of Chickens” which booms out whilst Cath gets all loud. For much of the rest of the time you get super-quiet, meandering songs with lots of repetetive guitar, softly-softly drumming and wandering vocals that soothe and ease you through the small hours if you happen to still be up. Don’t turn the light on. “Anticipated and Intercepted” practically stops in the middle whilst four fifths of the band go off for a cup of tea leaving one person to strum a guitar with the volume on 1.
I guess they recorded some of the songs at lower levels than others intentionally, because this creates a totally wonderful effect of contrast. The quiet songs really are quiet unless you turn them up. Which would kind of defeat the object, as from time to time these quiet songs break into sweeping power without requiring your over attentive ‘help’. Getting back to “Anticipated and Intercepted” again, that one totally unexpectedly introduces some lumbering hardcore chug-chug at one point after seemingly heading down the ‘pretty’ path for much of the song. Inspired! Also, you’ve got to love a song (“Mind Comes To Thoughts”) which uses a sample of a BBC radio travel report and you can even hear cars buzzing past in the distance behind some truly lovely, gentle guitar. No singing until 5 minutes in too. Fucking yes, Month of Birthdays really know how to push my buttons.
It’s tough for comparisons. Some of the really twinkly bits remind me of Rainer Maria, or sometimes the Van Pelt. Perhaps mixed with the moody tendencies and dynamics of Indian Summer? Bob Tilton maybe? But for the band’s sound as a whole, you got me. Yikes, truly an original sounding record! I’m running scared. (Source)
I almost had forgotten that I own this record, but when “four cornered night” was released it made my summer, which was the summer of 2000. In the last weeks I listened again several times to Jets to Brazil who still keep their magic for me. In my opinion, this second album brings out the true personality of Jets to Brazil. Along with adding former Van Pelt guitarist Brian Maryansky to the fold (fronted by Blake Schwarzenbach (ex-Jawbreaker) with bassist Jeremy Chatelain (ex-Handsome) and former Texas is the Reason drummer Chris Daly), Jets to Brazil add dimension, savoir faire, and one hell of a grand piano to forge ahead with a breathtaking new direction. And just read that list of bands again: Jawbreaker, Texas is the reason, Van Pelt, Handsome… do you have to know more? Three top bands of american indie rock that evolved in the early 90s from the post-hardcore scene (plus post-Helmet project Handsome) and every expectation is fullfilled. Mastermind Blake really opens up here and lets his contradictory gloomy yet hopeful lines fill your head with images of hammocks, lazy rivers, and sunny summer afternoons with nothing to do.
After nine years and two albums, Seattle noisecore pioneers Botch decided to quit in 2002, leaving us with this EP as a parting gift. And it is a fine gift. Although only just over 22 minutes long, “an anthology of dead ends” is full of the angular song structures, unexpected tempo changes, and just plain noise, that made them probably the most consistently exiting band of their type. Botch combines the technicality of metal and the raw ferocity of punk with complex time structures, similar stylistically to bands like Coalesce and Converge. Evil Math Rock! The devastating combination of noise, indie rock guitar, rhythmic density, and scathing vocals is about as subtle as hitting your face with a sledgehammer.
Their final EP topped up everything they stood for in 21 minutes. It showed their abilites to create, minmalistcally (‘Spaim’), how to create noise within acceptable pop boundaries (‘Japam’), create haunting ballands (‘Afghamistam’) and how to top it all off with one huge agressive jam session (‘Micaragua’). And I promise, you can listen thirty times to this record and still will be able to pick up new details.
One of my favourite records from 2008 is “The 59´sound” from The Gaslight Anthem from New Jersey, smart folk/americana influenced punk rock, with a straight focus on the rock in it. And the singer remembers me of the young Bruce Springsteen and in conclusion I again listened very often to the last Chamberlain records.
Chamberlain has come quite a long way since their first appearance, which ended with “Exit 263” and some fans were unwilling to walk that way with them. They started as Split Lip, which by the principles of the 1990s was one of the pillars of passionated post-hardcore (they called it emo back that days, it is astonishing which alteration the definition of emo has made in two decades, so continue reading, ´cause you don´t have to expect an emo record). Over the years the name Chamberlain has deepened in the roots of American rock. That is not surprising either coming from where it comes…Nashville. “Exit 263” follows in the wake of its predecessor “The Moon My Saddle” but with a greater rawness of sound.The record is in the main a rock album with alt-country & americana influences, but it still has the appeal of the awesome vocal style of David Moore which has always been a something of an institution within the post-hardcore scene as being one of the most well-rounded and influential voices. Sophisticated and perfectly executed guitar work gives the impression you”re listening to an old hand and is complimented with a perfectly suited rhythm section played with a more blues/roots style as it keeps things exciting and moving while the vocals and guitars tell their story. The melancholy of its music is transformed moment by moment into heartrending sadness, with lost goodbyes and loves or the sensuality of “Masterpiece.”
With this last disc, they have looked to create their most personal work to date, recording most of the material on four tracks and concentrating themselves on the essence of the songs. And, it never ceases to be peculiar that Chamberlain still are related to the American emo scene considering that the music is nearer Bruce Springsteen and Van Morrison.
The predecessor “The Moon my Saddle” was the record which erased any memory of their mid-tempo hardcore era, but is still more rooted in the Midwest post-hardcore and on this masterpiece (yes, both records are masterpieces, sadly almost unknown) they were able to capture the essence of the Midwest unlike any band I’ve ever heard, maybe more than any other band from the Midwest-scene in the 90s. Within the record you can envision the long drives through empty fields, hear the steps cut the silence in a town where everything closes at 7pm, sleeping with freight trains running in the distance and everything else that goes along with rural life. At least the imagination of an urban boy like I am.
Chamberlain are simply a great band that never really got their due.
Started with a screamo sound close to San Diego style back in 1995, Standstill themselves wouldn’t probably think that they would become, through the years, the influential and respected band they are nowadays. So what happened, why is Standstill not another average hardcore, later post- and nowadays ex-hardcore band?
Besides the fact that they´re from Spain and that you still can reach at least an exotic touch with this origin in that genre, it was in first line their ability to play hardcore music in an aggressive AND melancholic way, with no lack of power. Their debut from 1997 was good and reached attention outside Spain, but their second full length “The Ionic Spell” from 2001sent shockwaves around Europe. That record put a start to the next era of Standstill, when they started to play continuously around Europe, causing a strong influence over a number of british, french, german and belgian bands who wanted to have the same punch, attitude, sound and songs that Standstill was showing successfully wherever they played. The post-hardcore/screamo scene in Europe pulsated and Standstill were on of the leading bands. “The Ionic Spell” awarded like best spanish album of the year by Rock Sound and Mondo Sonoro and highlighted by most of the main spanish specialized magazines. It showed how the rage of the screamo roots can fit with the beauty of the instrumental landscapes, using samplers and keyboards with dexterity.
But one year later, 2002, the next album “Memories Collector” did go one step beyond with the addition of trumpets, vibraphones, upright basses and other instruments really uncommon in the “hardcore” scene. Like 4 years ago with “the shape of punk to come” from Refused hardcore-music was reinvented (or killed? to invent something new?), last time the storm came from Sweden, this time from Spain. And for me it came at the right time, once again I thought that hardcore was dead. Refused legendary last release from 1998 became something like a blueprint, hundreds of bands just copying them, hardcore music (with all its different subgenres) once again was trapped into stagnation. Standstill´s “Memories Collector” broke up that stagnation and the record title was perfect: the music collected all the tendencies and developments that took place over the last years and transformed the whole into a new sound. Hardcore (and of course Punk) has a long history of that kind of important records (we can argue if Standstill´s “Memories Collector” is one, in my eyes it is, especially for the european hardcore scene), that ended stagnation (and hardcore is full of stagnation and conservative nostalgia), aggregated and evolved new directions (and since some years I´m waiting for a new milestone in hardcore music or did I just miss it? tell me if you think so!)
With the addition of Carlos on second guitar and Damià on the saxophone Standstill added a touch of experimentation to their emotional sound, losing agressivity but not power. Surprising from the very first breaks of “Ride down the slope” until the Black Sabbath inheritance of “Memories Collector”, passing through the quiet lyricism of “Dead man picture” or the apic intensity of “Always late” or “Not the place”, this record simply broke up with anything else done before in the international post-hardcore scene, left impress also in the indie scene.
The following releases, all on highly respected spanish indepentend label BCore, led Standstill more into a quieter, smoother sound rather than the explosive output of their previous stuff. Their same titled third record from 2004 is their most mature, profound and eloquent album ever, as it is the first release they have sung in spanish. A few weeks ago they released “Viva la guerra” continuing on that way.
“Memories Collector” is until today one of the most important european hardcore records, that broke up with typical hardcore sounds and arrangements, completed a musical development that was on the rise for years in the european scene.
Youth desperation and life in the suburbs (a place where a teenager really can find out how nice it is to own a guitar) always have been a drive for melancholic and desperated music, Trip Fontaine mixed this desperation with an angry attitude and intermitted melancholic melodies by forward looking moments of hope. Screamed vocals sometimes destroy this hope and the complex song structures are rebuilding it step by step. It´s rock music, but Trip Fontaine break open the boundaries of the genres, post-At-the-Drive-In, Fugazi influenced post-rock with screamo remnants and the will to explore new shores – you can´t categorize their ecstatic music with one of the typical key words. After three demos and good responses in their region around Frankfurt/Germany the band – named after the person from Jeffrey Eugenides´ novel “The Virgin Suicides”, which gained mainstream interest with the film adaptation by Sofia Coppola – released their debut “lilith” on a very very small independent record “company”, which today even any longer doesn´t exist. But even with a insufficiently promotion the record recieved good critics and soon the small, but in comparison much bigger indie “Redfield Records” rereleased the “lilith” record. From that re-release on Trip Fontaine got more and more attention in Europe, touring in Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland extended their fame as a good live band. In spring 2008 Trip Fontaine are going to release their second record.
In their own, not very serious words:
Trip Fontaine invented themselves by accident a while ago and are a) very close, b) very shambolic (in a tight-as-rude-things sort of way, though), and c) very shouty. They are a ROCK BAND – yes – they are NOT urban. An iconic, five man strike force on twenty-first century apathy, undoubtedly. If you book them at your ethnic-soulful-funk fest they will scare the chickens and rape your ears. Be warned. Petite Müller, Louis Kahn and Gilbert Saar are Trip Fontaine (among others). And Trip Fontaine are your musical salvation darlings. Just like the original pop star himself, they come from the Holy Land, have killer charisma and are gonna take you down. In a beginning they were mainly inspired by dancemusic and their fantasies about huge clubs where nothing was forbidden. Fantasies because they were too young to be allowed into to most of the cool clubs. They were left with the radios weekly dancemusic-feature bootlegged to cassette-tapes. You could hear that in their 2002 promo. Yet somehow the music lifts the mundane teenage neuroses into something strangely grand, beautiful, and universal. A twelve-legged whirlwind of glitter-punk riffs and aviator shades. They have already amassed a rock’n’roll charge sheet to die for, but more crucially, they’ve given rock’n’roll a much needed shot in the arm without resorting to heroin chic or cosying up to the media. Trip Fontaine love to write promo sheets.
Some bands never get the publicity they earn. Christiansen from Louisville are a typical example. This quartet formed in 1998 released two very hard to get records with the help of a good friend, in 2000 the group – which is not a christian rock band as the name may suggest (no gods, no masters!) – published the first “real” record on Eulogy Records, a company more famous for metalcore releases, not the sound Christiansen made. “Emphasizing function over design” was a good record, but nothing earth shaking. Melodic emo-influenced post-core, but too experimental to be classified as emo or even emopop. The record didn´t get much attention, maybe cause of the “wrong” record company, but the people who recognized the band looked out for them for sure, cause you could hear that there was more to come!
Revelation Records, nobody could doubt their legendary status and high quality of releases, soon recognized the band and signed them. It seemed as if Christiansen were on their way to international success and for a few month the scene began worldwide to turn heads for them. 2002 the band released the EP “forensic brothers and sisters!” as a teaser for the forthcoming full length on Revelation Records and as to expect, it was a bastard! The 6 songs were a huge step forward compared to their last record. Fueled by load guitars, danceable bass and drum interplay the group created an explosive, chaotic and powerful sound, transporting the energy of hardcore records, but without falling prey to the limitations of this genre. The younger brothers from At the Drive-in with the creative energy of Fugazi? Yes, it seems as if the band would take the world in storm and the “stylish nihilists” full length for Revelation Records from 2003 pleased everbody, the critics and the public. A good record and to say almost nobody recognized it would be exaggerated, but compared to the quality of the music it were to less, especially in Europe. After some touring it seems the band broke up or just renamed themself to Your Highness Electric, I don´t have any informations about the reasons. I never heard one song from them, but you should listen to Christiansen. And as always, if you´re interested in more, drop me a line!