Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Everything Wilts, Arrows in Her, Gatherer, Fossil, Until We Are Ghosts

July 21, 2014 • Fairfield Christian Church, Baltimore, Ohio

Having a concert in a church was real weird. On one hand, the standing room was weirdly organized and it was a little cramped. On the other hand, it didn't smell awful and there were no annoying drunkards (in fact, everyone was really nice). Totally worth the half-hour drive out of town to check out some amazing bands.

Until We Are Ghosts

These guys have a metalcore sound to them, with a bit of modern hardcore punk and post-screamo thrown in. I'm not sure how I feel about their music in and of itself (it was a bit too much metalcore at times), but I can't deny that their performance was pretty impressive. Good technical skills, incredible passion for their craft (especially the vocalist), and a little showmanship. Good stuff.


Leaning more towards the lighter post-hardcore side, with a heavy dose of standard screamo. While they certainly performed well, the songs themselves weren't terribly thrilling. Not that I found myself bored or anything, but there wasn't much about them that really set them apart. Nice to watch anyway, especially given the slightly silly dancing about. Fantastic drumming, too.


More traditional-type screamo plus post-hardcore with a very dark feel to it (at least, in comparison to the other bands). The rhythms were really good and they did switch up the formula quite a bit with lots of changeups and different styles (including a tiny bit of blasting). The set in general was great; very fun to watch. One to check out for sure.

Arrows in Her

I can die happy now. These guys have been a top band for me ever since Leaving came out almost two years ago. Since they haven't come up with much new material since then (though a full-length is apparently almost done) the set was packed full of amazing songs. I'm still impressed by the guitarist's ability to do those intricate clean riffs and sing at the same time. Gatherer's drummer filled in and he did a fantastic job as well. So glad they finally made it here.

Everything Wilts

Half of this band was in Maumelle, a crazy coincidence I didn't realize until the show was over. Anyway: pretty upbeat (almost pop-punk) screamo, the vocals are a bit too intense for the music (kinda like Maumelle). But the band was doing some pretty interesting stuff, with some good guitar effects and different textures going on. They've got a way to go, but it's a great start.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Anger House – Asleep

June 3, 2014 • Happy Ass Records

I've reviewed Anger House here before; see my review of Loss for a good overview. Their brand of old-school emocore harkens back to the D.C. school of Rites of Spring and their peers and I love how they're doing it. Asleep is essentially just more of the same, so there really isn't a whole lot for me to say about the EP. But in no way do I see this as a bad thing. "Devotion" is probably their best song yet and one of the best post-hardcore songs I've heard in a long time. They are very consistently putting out good material, and I basically just wanted to put out yet another good word for them. So go listen!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Braid – No Coast

July 8, 2014 • Topshelf Records

This one caught me a bit off guard; I haven't really been paying attention and didn't realize at first that Braid, one of the most seminal emo bands of the original '90s wave, reunited for a new album and tour. (I guess I was too interested in similar situation of the Owls reunion.) There's something a bit odd about a bunch of old-timers playing music that's always been a very teenage sort of thing, but I guess if anyone were to try and pull it off I'd rather it be Braid than just about anyone else.

No Coast definitely has a different sound than their older albums (as should have been expected). It's less emo and more straight-up indie rock, with more restrained vocals and an overall more straightforward sound. There's still a little bit of that punk-ish drumming and emotive guitar lines, but the result is definitely on the tamer side. I won't call it completely radio-friendly yet, but it edged in that direction a little bit.

Of course that isn't necessarily a bad thing; the songs are still pretty good. A little repetitive, perhaps (especially in the lyrics and choruses), but definitely enjoyable. It's well-produced, slick-sounding stuff and there are plenty of nice catchy riffs and rhythms ("Many Enemies"' Pixies-esque style stands out as one of the top tracks). However, they still don't come anywhere close to the greatness of The Age of Octeen or Frame & Canvas. There just aren't a lot of moments that are as moving or memorable as those two albums were.

That being said, it's still good stuff and worth a listen or two. After all, it might have been sixteen years but it's still Braid and they're still good. I guess if this exact album was made by another band, it probably wouldn't get the same response (yes, even from me) but I think it would still be quite well-received. Anyway, check it out already.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Lobby Boxer – Lobby Boxer

May 16, 2014 • self-released

I haven't written any new emo reviews in a while (okay, any reviews, for that matter), and since there have been a million of these bands crawling out of the woodwork there certainly hasn't been a shortage of good stuff to recommend.

Lobby Boxer takes the midwest-emo-revival sound and puts a slightly more aggressive pop-punk sound on top, a style which I've noticed is gaining a bit of traction lately. I won't say they do it the best of any band I've heard, but they definitely are doing it well. The songs have a very natural ebb and flow to them, back and forth from stomping start-stop rhythms to calmer introspective textures. And they can get heavy, too—that last track "Fragile Girl" is a real pounder. The level of dynamics is pretty impressive.

Special shout-out to the bass guitar player; there are some surprisingly detailed lines going on there that really help give the music a unique sound.

Anyway, yeah, another band to keep an eye on. Might as well give it a spin if it sounds even remotely interesting—hard to beat that download price.

Have Mercy, Pentimento, Gates, Head North, Vice on Victory, Absent Youth

July 14, 2014 • Double Happiness, Columbus, Ohio

Not my first time at Double Happiness, but my first time there for a concert. Definitely the smallest, most intimate show space I've been to that wasn't a house; turns out it's actually a pretty good venue.

Absent Youth

Since there were six bands and I wasn't totally sure what time they were starting, I wound up guessing a bit off and missed almost all of Absent Youth's set—all but one and a half songs. It's unfortunate because from what I did catch they seemed like they were pretty good; kind of your standard heavy-emo stuff I guess. I should look them up.

Vice on Victory

Definitely taking a solid pop-punk turn, though not in a bad way. Songs were pretty catchy with some cool breakdowns (surprising to me, but then again I don't really listen to much pop punk). Not exactly my kind of material, but they still seemed pretty talented and knew how to put on a good show.

Head North

The surprise of the night (there's always at least one, right?), these guys were phenomenal. Another pop punk band with a bit of emo influence and this really uplifting, feel-good aesthetic that was immediately infatuating. Cool stuff.


I got a real Appleseed Cast vibe from these guys, with a very droney, atmospheric, hypnotizing post-rock vibe. Usually I'm not really into the more post-rock-ish stuff but they do it well, and in the context of this show it was, if nothing else, a nice change of pace. They were great to listen to, too; it was all too easy to just get lost in the wall of sound and zone out. It felt like it was over too quickly, though.


More upbeat pop-punk sort of stuff; not a total mopefest but a bit of that melancholy influence in there. Nice, driving, rhythmic stuff with enough aggression and complexity to that you don't really notice it's pop punk.

Have Mercy

Wound up being way better than I imagined it would be. I guess it always helps my enjoyment of a show when I'm familiar with the material beforehand, and I had spent a lot of time listening to The Earth Pushed Back last year. I can say pretty confidently that the songs work better live, and that's saying something. Absolutely worth coming out for. And unlike a lot of successful bands, these guys were still very genuine and friendly and a joy to see play and talk to.