Posted by: Necci – Aug 06, 2010
They call themselves The Wave: a collective of like-minded bands from different parts of America who have joined together in an ongoing collaboration. The link between these bands is not necessarily musical, and The Wave isn't a "new wave" of some genre or another. There are uniting factors between all of the bands--emotionally-centered lyrical content, dual musical emphasis on both melody and distorted intensity--but to write them all off, as some have, as "just another bunch of screamo bands" is to miss out on an inspired new development within the realm of underground music.
Los Angeles's Touché Amoré and Baltimore's Pianos Become The Teeth are both members of the Wave collective, and both will appear at Richmond's The Warehouse next Tuesday, August 10. Of the two bands, Touché Amoré is more inclined towards hardcore, tending to keep their songs short and fast. They also introduce quite a bit of dynamic interplay into their songwriting, though their quieter single-note guitar interludes are used more for the purpose of building intensity than as an opportunity to introduce any real melody into their music. For that reason, Touché Amoré can easily be compared to late 90s bands like Saetia and You And I, making the "screamo" tag somewhat appropriate for them. Indeed, their vocalist tends to scream at full intensity at all times, and while his style is a bit monochromatic, it never fails to grab the listener's attention. Both of the songs on their most recent release, a split EP with La Dispute, feature more melody than appeared anywhere on last year's ...To The Beat Of A Dead Horse. This is a welcome development, and could herald even better things for their next release, a split EP with Make Do And Mend (yet another Wave band).
Pianos Become The Teeth have a more drawn-out, epic sound, one that I find somewhat preferable to Touche Amore's screamo/hardcore hybrid sound. Where Touché Amoré's use of dynamics is overly familiar, Pianos Become The Teeth integrate influences from more recent strains of progressive metal (think Isis, or Mastodon) and the heavier, more guitar-oriented end of post-rock (Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky) into a template that is fundamentally based in the underground version of emo that bands like Moss Icon and Indian Summer produced back before "emo" had come to mean Jimmy Eat World, or worse, Dashboard Confessional (ugh). There are a few other bands who've come out with a variation of this sound in recent years, the most prominent being Who Calls So Loud and Drowning With Our Anchors, but Pianos Become The Teeth add their own approach to it, mainly by finding ways to make even their quieter moments reverberate with passion and intensity. On their latest release, Old Pride, they mix more concise songs with longer pieces that grow and shift through different moods, always ratcheting up the tension. When they do reach their dynamic crescendos, which can happen at multiple points during the same song, they are a welcome catharsis. And even though, like Touché Amoré, Pianos Become The Teeth feature vocals that are almost entirely screamed, the combination of these vocals with melodically-infused guitar lines creates a multi-layered, emotionally evocative sound that should definitely lend itself to live performance.
By Andrew Necci