Brave Little Abacus

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Masked Dancers (2009), 7.5/10
Just Got Back From the Discomfort (2010) , 7/10

New Hampshire's Brave Little Abacus, fronted by singer and guitarist Adam Demirjian and featuring keyboardist Zach Kelly-Onett, concocted a "progressive" brand of emo on Masked Dancers (2009), recorded when they were still teenagers. The ten-minute I See it Too tries to find and luckily fails to find a balance between folk lament, hysterical noise-rock, ferocious midwestern hardcore and cerebral post-rock. The disjointed and haphazard nature of the result is precisely what makes this emo so powerful. Ditto for the creative and dissonant arrangements of A Map of the Stars. A brass section enters the mess of Waiting for Your Return, Like Running Backwards leading into the gut-wrenching vocals and instrumental bacchanal of (Through Hallways), which, in its own way, is actually both catchy and exuberant. The spastic bluegrass Remember to Wave (When Looking Down From the Clouds) even incorporates a saxophone solo and a trombone fanfare. The ten-minute Born Again So Many Times You Forget You Are, instead, is often lackluster when it abandons the central frenzied jolting country-rock motif. And the eight-minute (Underground) is more recitation than music.

Just Got Back From the Discomfort (2010) is a more varied collection. There is excruciating passion but also musical finesse in the convoluted litany Pile! No Pile! Pile!, with an anthemic trumpet, and the chaotic-symphonic Bug-Infested FloorboardsóCan We Please Just Leave This Place, Now. A sense of panic permeates the Caribbean tumult of A Highway Got Paved Over My Future, I Drive It Getting to School and the boogie-tinged hubbub Please Don't Cry, They Stopped Hours Ago that fades into whining. Can't Run Away evokes wacky street singers a` la David Peel, and It's Not What You Think It Is is even more possessed, with jamming worthy of a mental hospital. The chronic instability makes it difficult for the best songs to maintain momentum, but that's most of the attraction: you never know what's going to happen in the next second. A piano carillon launches The Blah Blah Blahs (memories of the J. Geils Band) and then a trombone triggers an explosion with other eccentric quotations.

They were one of the greatest emo bands. Unfortunately, they lasted only two albums.

(Copyright © 2024 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )