Thursday, August 30, 2012
Punk Me, Punk You! Featuring Wolves at Bay, The Scutches, and Kite Party
Combining full-on spittle-faced hardcore fury with a post-hardcore/angular rock sensitivity, Wolves at Bay get this punk rock column off to a maniacal start. Opening cut, "Bedside Maner" starts off with an indie-kinda guitar intro that made me hesitate that I'd be subjected to some whinny, masscara-faced preening, but immediately the lads dispense all those thoughts. This is pure hardcore with double vocals that blend together seamlessly, both shredding their voice boxes with equal abandon. Guitars morph into churing buzzsaws, tearing through the melody. Yes, there is melody. Enough to keep the song hanging together and adding that post-hardcore vibe. The second half of the song ups the hardcore quotient with chugging frontal-bone smashing guitars, plowing through the violence.
From start to finish, the whole album sounds like someone took a red-hot burning poker and pressed it right up against a raw nerve. Emotive, violent, self-vilifying, and blistering. And at the same time, cuts like "I Have Nothing to Offer"" snap the hardcore smashing with moments of pure post-rock, indie beauty. Yes, it's still rough, but makes for a great blend from the pure punk. "Breaking in Two" even includes a mid-way breakdown, with silence slowly morphing into an almost jazz like interlude. It's moments like that that rise this album above the norm of post-emo punk that comes our way. Worth checking out.
Moving over to a much more radio-friendly, pop-punk vein, we got The Scutches with their post-Ramones, post-Green Day platter, Ten Songs, Ten Years. What we got here are . . . yes, ten songs of melodic yet still aggressive pop-punk juiciness. I got no problem with with pop punk as long as the choruses are catchy, the chops still mighty, and the singing not too whiny. Check, check, check. This is pop punk done with flash and flair. Fun songs, loud guitars, substantial pounding drums.
Taking their cues from masters of the past, The Dead Milkmen, Queers, with a dash of The Ramones, plus tossing in a chunk of Weezer and even some of the innocence of Buddy Holly, Ten Songs, Ten Years is a whirlwind of hooks and melodies all crammed into 26 minutes of pop punk goodness. "Weekend Boyfriend" would've even sounded great if it'd been released by the Ramones and wouldn't have sounded out of place on their greatest hits album. "Don't Go" has got a simple vocal hook that will effortlessly embed itself in the toughest cortex and reel itself right into the brain.
Nothing here to change the world, but good clean punky fun.
Definitely blurring the boundaries of what we call punk, Philadelphia's Kite Party tread a path through the jungles of emo punk, skirting around the rain forest of indie rock, all the time avoiding the quicksand that can sink both genres into parody. Emo originally sprang from the world of hardcore punk, incorporating real singing, unusual time structures and more introspective emotions. But what became known as emo to the general public, and to me, was whiny, nail-polish wearing wimps, crying about lost dates and facial breakouts. Kite Party are here to change that.
This is emo as originally intended. It still has an inherent ferocity (not a manufactured, MTV-ready amped up pace) but it is definitely pop-friendly and melodic. Songs go in and out of time changes, mood changes, pace and tone changes. Indie rock seems to reign supreme, but not in a fey sort, more in an experimental sort. Guitar textures are played with. In the end it all makes the album feel . . . big. And it is. It's a real big album and in that sense, a kind of masterpiece of its sort.
A song like "Spirit Gum" represents all this in one brief capsule. Beautiful at times, intensely melodic at times, experimental in tone and structure, yet still, at times aggressive and near-violent.
In the end, it's a terrific album that challenges me on every listen in the best sense of the word. I never thought that I liked emo before. Now Kite Party have proven me wrong.