Vol. 4 (Hopeless)
by Scott Hefflon
I just reviewed Hopeless Records’ 50th Release a couple issues ago, so excuse me if I don’t have a lot new to say about most of these bands. Really, what can you say about Against All Authority, Common Rider, Mustard Plug, and Digger after you’ve reviewed them once or twice? They kinda aren’t going anywhere, and I think these are all old tracks (unreleased or not), which makes it worse.
So let’s focus on newer Hopeless/Sub City bands. They’re of two distinct schools, and both are pretty damn good, at least in theory. The Weakerthans and Jeff Ott (of Fifteen) go the acoustic route, and mostly to good ends. The Weakerthans’ “Aside” should be required listening for anyone who buys a Dashboard Confessional CD (that and a slap across the face). This is sentimental indie rock done well, perhaps like Hüsker Dü used to do, or maybe Smoking Popes. Just warm and touching and well done. Dashboard Confessional makes me want to wash – it’s so icky and deliberate and contrived and sickeningly sappy and vapid like some awful “love” scene on Dawson’s Creek. This style can be done well, and this is as good an example as I can think of without thinking very hard. Atom & His Package and Samiam are solid and fun as ever, but that’s not news: They’re both good at what they do and here are a couple songs by them. Whoopdee-fuckin’-doo.
Hopeless’s other new signings are heavy: Thrice and Avenged Sevenfold. Thrice mixes hardcore and punk singalongs and impressive guitarwork in a way you have to hear to understand. All the fawning over geek details doesn’t capture these guys. They’re really good players who aren’t afraid to show it (they’re better at metal than most nü metal bands, who are simply hardcore dumbfucks who got sick of not drinking or having sex; meaning they turned 17). Check ’em out. I’d say they’re a bright and shining hope, but ya gotta watch worshipping bands based on a couple tracks on a sampler.
Avenged Sevenfold are a cool idea, mixing full-on metal (we’re taking melodic death metal here kids, so if you’re having trouble keeping up, there’s no shame in admitting it, just go do some Google searches and listen to the metal guys you used to think were uncool (they still are) cuz they know far more about this stuff than you ever will, and they’ll be very, very happy to tell you about all the great metal bands from Sweden and all over Europe that they know about that no one besides them and their metal chat groups have heard of) and whoa-whoa Iron Maiden. I have understandable problems with the “new thing” that allows the trendy kids to say they like metal when they don’t know dick about it, but that’s hating the fans and blaming the bands, and Avenged Sevenfold, while intentional and ironic and all that hipster shit, do seem to kinda get it. But if I want melodic death metal, At The Gates and In Flames and Arch Enemy smoke this shit, and if I wanted to listen to Iron Maiden, I’d listen to Iron fuckin’ Maiden. But this is better than nü metal and rap metal and “active rock,” but so is a prostate exam, so who really cares? But if it’s a baby step toward American kids understanding how bad ass underground metal is, sure, I’ll support it. Once you get used to the vocals (yeah, it takes a while), man is there some amazing metal out there!
Oh, and now that they’ve broken up after seven records, can y’all PLEASE realize how much Scared of Chaka rules? They’re great songwriters: Much of it comes across as garage rock (oooh, now I have your attention, huh?), but they have the good graces to push and pull it out of those confines. Crossing with Switchblades is a great record I can play from end to end and then repeat. If ya like The Hives and The White Stripes, check ’em out. They might not have a “The” in front of their name, but they sure sound like they do.
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