Saturday, August 17, 2013

Crash of Rhinos - Knots (2013)

Crash of Rhinos' second album seemed, at first, to be a what's-what of emo subgenres, surprising me because I'd enjoyed their debut (Distal, 2011). The first four tracks strongly recall, in order: The Promise Ring's midwestern-emo, the gruffly hollered vocal stylings of Hot Water Music, Joan of Arc's mellow guitar acrobatics, and Cap'n Jazz's spazzcore.

The seven subsequent tracks mostly stick within these parameters, sometimes shifting between styles within a song, but it's hard to fault Crash of Rhinos too much. Emo isn't exactly a forward-thinking genre. It's heroes of a decade (or more) ago are placed on pedestals and it's hard to image any of the more recent players of the genre ever reaching similar heights. Most modern bands of this ilk wear their influences on their sleeves and it's probably only because they spent the first four tracks reaching in four distinct directions within the purview of emo, that this thing seemed derivative.

Repeated listens have actually had me liking this more and more, and I suspect that genre enthusiasts who aren't immediately enamored based on these obvious influences may come around once they realize the passion and enthusiasm is there, not to mention the competent playing. The second to last track, "Lean Out", is a meditative pseudo-ballad complete with pianos and hushed vocals, a beautiful outlier on a solid-but-safe album.

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