the pathetic caverns - music by artist - Strike Anywhere
eclectic reviews and opinions
Change is A Sound
(Jade Tree, 2001)
Should I be allowed to review this record? It's a good example of modern hardcore. Hot punk/emo producer Brian McTernan (Milemarker, Dead Meadow, etc.) strikes a fine balance between rawness and clarity. You'd be hard-pressed to find more impassioned and committed vocal delivery than Thomas Barnett's; the lyrics are politically correct to a fault and the band is very tight. It's not always as hooky as I think it wants to be, but there are plenty of gang backing vocals and "Whoa-oh"s to cover the places where the melody gets thin, and the band slows down or varies the roar just enough (particularly on "Chalkline" and album closer "My Design") to prove that they're not strictly one note. So why does it feel distressingly tame, and, well, a little formulaic? I dunno, can you still believe that loud guitars and hoarse-throated screaming are true signifiers of rebellion? Or is McTernan's production a little too clear, a little too monochramatic, and lacking in dynamics? The more I listen, the more I suspect the latter.
(Jade Tree, 2003)
I kinda panned Strike Anywhere's debut, Change Is a Sound, although I wanted to like it, and although some of it grew on me later. I like this one a hellalot better off the bat, but from my perspective Exit English suffers from the same basic flaw -- one-dimensionality. The opening run of "Amplify/Blaze," "Infrared," and "To The World" makes me crank my speakers up and bop around the room. "Aluminum Union" and "Extinguish" aren't any less energetic or hooky, but by the ninth song, I'm tired of hearing the same snare, vocal, and guitar tones on almost every track. Of course, you pretty much always hear the same sounds throughout a live show, so you may or not agree with this sort of criticism at all. How much you want an album to document a band, and how much do you want it to be a thing unto itself? With a musical form as potentially formulaic as hardcore, I think a record benefits a lot from some textural shifts, but Strike Anywhere is clearly more interested in consistency. Regardless, this is one of the best political hardcore records I've heard in quite a while. Exit English is nice and terse with 12 songs fitting in just over half an hour. The songwriting and arrangements are both more focused than on Change Is a Sound, flirting with melodies accessible enough for the mall-punk crowd without compromising the music's essential fierceness. You could slip this in after something tame and apolitical and get away with it -- and that's the kind of subversion I can really get behind.
all contents © 1995-2004 d. mayo-wells except where otherwise noted.