Friday, July 5, 2013

Cain Marko - S/T



Gainesville, Samiam, Pop Punk, Emo. O.k. now that’s out of the way it’s time to talk about 1994. The rift in punk rock that was created by the likes of Seven Seconds and Dag Nasty and other posi-core bands was as vast as ever. Immediately dismissed by the hardcore scene that saw any dilution of straight political messaging and louder, faster music as a crack in the foundation. Radio play is the biggest taboo and any display that it was a possibility was pounced on and ridiculed by throngs of angry young radicals.

Regardless of pushback there was a changing of the guard. The second wave punks were vaguely aware (and wary) of The Jam and Stiff Little Finger’s contribution to punk. Angry pop that defied rigid dogma and played easily for any casual listener these bands had lyrics made of fireworks that exploded in an unsuspecting mind. It seemed the kids wanted to make music with the sense of melody portrayed by The Beatles and The Ramones while maintaining the urgency and strong stance of early eighties hardcore. Only this time around the lyrics strayed from police brutality into more introspective subjects like alienation and technological malaise and the constraints of adulthood.

With this in mind melodic hardcore was born and with it another bucking of the status quo in punk (see crossover for the equal reaction on the dark side of punk’s great civil war). It angered many and was not readily accepted by anyone who wasn’t steeped in the traditions of rebel music, ska and maybe jazz. There was a generation younger who soaked up these sounds and were ready to perfect the merger of pop sounding music and punk power. Songs that raise emotional intelligence, songs about girls or high school but songs about being an outcast most of all. Songs for the kids. This is the kind of talk that rankles the radical extroverts who depend on the loudspeaker and the spotlight.
Grand Rapids band, Cain Marko (taken from X-Men’s Juggernaut, an outcast) haven’t reinvented the wheel. While comparisons to Hot Water Music with their gruff vocals, or Braid with modern chord structures and slick pop sensibilities would be easy it would diminish what they’ve accomplished with Show Me The Way Home. A solid, thoughtful punk album with massive hooks and effective melodies. Their first full length could fit beside Hopeless Records early roster or No Idea. This should be heard by a new generation of punk rockers. A new exploration of the personal as political.

This is sincere music that never feels forced, and still sounds timely.

Unassuming tracks like Show Me The Way To Go Home uses guitar interplay that fill out the sound in a satisfying way that feel charged and highlight the theme of burnout and homeless wandering. On It’s Just You And Me Hemingway, great song titles by the way, the sparse guitars and elegant blend of minor and major notes remind of Kill Creek’s Proving Winter Cruel. Which is to say that nebulous space where and emotive can needlessly be reduced to a category that might or might not be loaded with negative connotations. Whatever labels are ultimately assigned to Cain Marko are void of substance because in my mind they will be leading the way. I personally plan to listen to this album many times.


--Plague Rat






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