The New Wave of Post-Hardcore

Post-hardcore was a short-lived passion of mine. Having discovered Minor Threat and Black Flag slightly too late to be a part of that movement, my generation could be found trying to recreate that scene with bands such as Good Riddance, Strung Out, Lagwagon, NOFX and others. When the old regime did come through town, they were no long considered punk or hardcore. Danzig had gone metal, Henry Rollins had a hard rock band and Ian MacKaye was with Fugazi — arguably the most important band to be playing all-age venues in those days. It was bands like Fugazi, Jawbox, Shellac, and in our local San Diego scene, Drive Like Jehu (and later, Hot Snakes). These bands proved punk hadn’t actually died in the 80’s, it just matured a little. There was nothing like slamming the shit out of people to the comedic sounds of Guttermouth, but if you wanted some intelligence mixed in with your teenage angst, it was the post-hardcore scene that had your back.

Living in San Diego, we were also on the front lines of a battle that would be lost to emo, screamo and other bastardizations of this form of music. To quote a Facebook comment I read recently, we went from intense, pointed, intelligent, aggressive post-hardcore to ‘CHUG CHUG scream CHUG CHUG breakdown CHUG CHUG squeaky clean chorus‘ post-hardcore. When this form took hold and cannibalized the scene it came from, I was among the mass exodus. Having rarely looked back, and usually regretting the few times it has happened, I have to admit I fought the urge to stop listening to Touché Amoré‘s Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me after the first track. The name of the band and the title of the album scream ’emo!’, but if it has taught me one thing, it’s not to judge a book by its cover.

Touché Amoré came to my attention via a t-shirt worn by a member of Deafheaven. La Dispute held a top spot on I don’t remember how Defeater found their way onto my playlist, but what I do know is that these bands have all released albums this year that have me rethinking the post-hardcore scene in 2011. They make me believe in a possible resurgence of a genre I considered long dead.

Interested in who these bands were and why they sounded so much different than all the carbon copies, I found that all three associate themselves with a movement called The Wave, along with Pianos Become the Teeth and Make Do and Mend.  What is this Wave?  I wish I knew.  I have reached out to all bands on the list and not one of them wanted to provide a definition. It seems at this time, The Wave is nothing more than a group of like-minded bands — bands that have a love for the post-hardcore movement of the past.  Most of what I have heard sounds like they are picking up where At The Drive-In left off, essentially erasing the last decade.

The three albums listed here represent the 2011 sophomore full-lengths from each band.  Pianos Become the Teeth‘s sophomore LP will be released next month.

La Dispute – Wildlife (No Sleep, 2011)

Storytellers from Grand Rapids, MI.  Extreme emotion that manifests itself through Jordan Dreyer‘s sometimes unbearable stream-of-consciousness vocals.  Just because this isn’t emo doesn’t mean these guys don’t have overly dramatic responses to some of life’s problems.  But the emotion here is raw and true, and that’s something that has been missing from the genre for a long time.

Catch La Dispute open for Thrice at Summit Music Hall on 10/30.

La DisputeThe Most Beautiful Bitter Fruit

Touché Amoré – Parting the Sea Between Brightness and Me (Deathwish, 2011)

Touché Amoré are from Los Angeles and they provided my introduction to The Wave.  These guys will never win an award for their lyrics, in fact some of the lyrics are so bad that you can’t help but laugh out loud.  The self-deprecating, loathing and just plain ‘feeling sorry for oneself’ attitude should come across as whiny at best, but somehow they don’t.  You can’t help but think Jeremy Bolm is going to break character and start laughing at himself, but that just never happens.  There is an intensity (a dedication) to the script that you have to respect.  They never regress into crybaby clean vocals — every ridiculous thought is projected at extreme volume with extreme pressure, leaving you to catch your breath in the seconds of silence between each short track.  These guys are emotional as hell, but instead of sit in a corner and sulk about it, they are going to let you know how fucking angry they are.  If you want to listen, great, if not, oh well, because afterall, being onstage is a lot more fun than the therapists couch.

Catch Touché Amoré and Pianos Become The Teeth at Blast-O-Mat on 11/20.

Touché Amoré~

Defeater – Empty Days & Sleepless Nights (Bridge Nine, 2011)

Aiming to repaint the deceiving Norman Rockwell images of our post-WWII country, Boston‘s Defeater might be the most straight-up hardcore band in The Wave.  That is not to say they don’t have post- tendencies though.  There are stories being told here that transcend tracks, and even albums.  Defeater prefer to base their songs around fictional characters rather than focus on their own internal emotion strife, making them unique in a genre that usually only loses its ego for political gain.  This album also includes a landing cushion, or cool off period — ending with four acoustic tracks.  To be honest, these final tracks might have been a misstep.  Derek Archambault has the pipes for hardcore, but does come across as pretty generic in an acoustic setting.  If you feel the same way, just start Warm Blood Rush over again when the White Oak Doors close.

Catch Defeater at Blast-O-Mat on 10/20.

DefeaterDear Father