Sunday, March 29, 2009

Age Sixteen - Open Up Finders, Please

'Peter Pan Complex'

This album is part of a series of events making me feel very positive about modern screamo. The first is last year's releases from well-established members of bands (...Who Calls So Loud, with members of Funeral Diner and Portraits of Past) and well-established bands themselves (Sinaloa), plus Loma Prieta's new take on Honeywell-style hardcore emo in Lost City. Age Sixteen's debut may not be quite up there with some of those former releases, but it fits into an exciting pattern. The excellent blog Stokingtheroots, which already covers a lot of current hardcore bands, has a brief but detailed review of the album here, but I think there are a couple more strands I can add.

First of all, there is a reasonably obvious La Quiete influence on this band - it's that kind of chaotic yet deeply melodic sound which defines European screamo for me in contrast to the more technical style of many US bands of recent years. Yet while La Quiete's most recent output - they haven't released a full album since 2004's La Fine non é La Fine, but have had two self-titled 7"s in 2006 and 2008 - has developed into a purer form, Age Sixteen is still distinctly a punk band. The album is only slightly over 20 minutes long, and mixed with the melody is a good deal of abrasive, old-school hardcore emo moments. Like Loma Prieta, Age Sixteen has managed to reinvigorate the earlier 90s styles of screamo in a contemporary sound.

Secondly, much has been written elsewhere about the other 90s emo revival of Algernon Cadwallader. I think they're pretty cool, although I don't listen to much of them, just as I don't listen to Cap'n Jazz/American Football in the first place. Great stuff, but not my style. What I do like about some of the Algernon Cadwallader songs, however, is how flawlessly shambolic, pained, and anxious they become that they move from the state of energetic, punky indie rock to somewhere very close to the chaos of screamo. Age Sixteen, with their La Quiete-ish melodies and harmonies, approach the process from the other side but with same endearingly tender result. The jaunty opening to 'Empty Nest' I think typifies this momentary glimpse into quite a different style, naturally woven into the general sound of the song and album.

So there are my reactions to this album. It's not solely about this release, which is as much a promise of further good things from a new band and, (as the Stokingtheroots review points out) a representation of a terrific live sound, as it is an excellent release in itself, but also it is symbolic of some new sounds coming through. Open Up Finders, Please is uncompromising screamo, nevertheless with deeply melodic and even poppy touches. Age Sixteen's creative adolescence straddles the old and the new of screamo and other related genres, resulting in a suprisingly mature and contemporary sound.

Download the album here or - because if you like it as much as I do, you're going to want to support the band - buy it via their Myspace ($7 US, $8 international).


Anonymous said...

I've seen this download link posted elsewhere and I've been ignoring it this whole time. But as usual, I always listen to what you post and now I'm loving this. Thanks. I will most definitely buy it.

gabbagabbahey said...

that's cool. really glad you accept my recommendations.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I am also recommending this Blog to my FaceBook friends. Jeremy from Dominican Republic Yoooo!!

cretin said...

just got around to listening to this. I haven't been listening to much screamo lately, but this is quite good, as expected per your recommendation.

I'm finding it hard to find a decent comparable for these guys. Loma Prieta and La Quiete work, but this is generally a lot "lighter" in feel and tone than either of those bands (also, I'm not too big on either of those bands, although La Quiete have their moments). it's kind of like Life At These Speeds, only less expansive, and more aggressive and fast-paced.

just some initial thoughts, anyway.

Anonymous said...

They remind me more of L'antietam.

CHUG LIFE said...

i think that la quiete is a good comparison, but justin is absolutely obsessed with suis la lune, and i think that that's the name that first pops into my head when i listen to the album. their first demo (somewhere on my blog) featured a different second guitarist and featured a more melodic sound, with more harmonizing higher up on the neck.

gabbagabbahey said...

Suis la Lune themselves sound a lot like La Quiete to my mind, so yeah, I can see that too.

I think its good that a) they make people think of so many different groups and b) no-one can decide on any one in particular.

the picture and the streaming song are also here on my Tumblr:

Sam said...

My copy just came in the mail the other day. It's one of my favorite things I've heard this year. I'm hoping these guys stick together because, while they're really good, they clearly have the imagination, vision, and chops to become great.

xero said...

One thing that wasn't mentioned that I'd like to add is the lyrical content on this album. The lyrics are really well written and though I'm a hip hop man myself and definitely not into screamo, or hardcore in general except maybe Meshuggah, I really do enjoy this album.

I think that the Peter Pan Complex really explains the phenomenon of Age Sixteen by itself, a raw, unapologetically intense experience that tends to be gentle and awkwardly innocent while being abrasive and aggressive as a result of the very same innocence.

Anonymous said...