Armor For Sleep
"Dream To Make Believe" CD (Equal Vision)
For the most part, dynamic, technically accomplished emo which is perpetually on the brink of teetering over into pop-punk doesn't do it for me. There's too much pop-punk wearing eyeliner as it is, and bands which dye their hair black in order to look sad when they really don't have a fuck of a lot to complain about just piss me off. The only reason that any of that is relevant is because Armor For Sleep sounds like they're balancing on one foot at the edge of the emo cliff while dangling the other over the abyss of MTV. The songs are catchy, well-written, presumably tremendously significant to high school students with crushes on girls (or boys) with screen names like XwintersFrozenTearsX or SkyFallBloodLet, and actually somewhat engaging. "All Warm" and "My Town" actually sound like hit singles that just haven't hit yet. The problem with this album isn't the musicianship or the songwriting; it's that it's almost completely indistinguishable from anything else. While it's well done, it's the same thing that almost every other 20-something band seems to be doing; while it's well crafted, it's not so well crafted that I can tell this apart from any other emo band. All of that just means that it's good enough not to be horrible and yet not good enough to stand out from its peers and competition for my ears.
"What To Do When You Are Dead" CD (Equal Vision)
Back in high school, when I was but a wee maudlin pup who was tormented by unrequited love (love, lust - it was all the same munged-up hormonal nonsense at that point) and spent sleepless nights writing bad poetry, lines like "Thinking back I forgot to tell you this: I didn't care that you left and abandoned me. What hurts more is I would still die for you." would have completely flipped my lid; sure, it's treacly nonsense to me now, but back then - when I felt slighted by girls who didn't call me back and wrote poetry so horrific that I might have been better off cutting myself - this might well have been my album of the year. Before you start hating on my youthful musical taste (or lack thereof), I was also listening to "Zen Arcade" and 7 Seconds; I was skating to The Misfits, Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. I was also a sucker for overwrought, maudlin sentimentality and mawkish songs that described the tragedy of love ... and honestly, even though I could care less about this concept album about someone who apparently killed himself but, like, totally misses his (ex?) girlfriend, I can at least understand why someone 20 or 25 years younger might. If you're a fan of My Chemical Romance or Coheed And Cambria, you'll probably shit yourself out of pure excitement over this one.