Wednesday, January 30, 2013


by Robby Beck

Comadre is a band from the bay area that you could call hardcore, or maybe screamo, but that would not be very descriptive. Because for what it’s worth, those genres in many ways have their set styles, sounds, stereotypes, and rigid rules and codes of conduct. There are definitely certain subgenres and infamous scenes of hardcore that have their own semi-unique sound, but to someone who isn’t already “in the know” about this stuff, all that separation becomes meaningless.

All that rigidity and just the nondescript nature of the “hardcore” label, as well as the fact that multiple hardcore bands can have similar attributes while simultaneously sounding very different, makes just calling Comadre a “hardcore” band, or even a “screamo” band, kind of sell the band short. Comadre in fact have a pretty damn unique take on the genre if you ask me, at least on their new self-titled album. While the sounds they play with aren’t necessarily innovative by themselves, the way Comadre puts them together makes for a pretty distinct sound. The point I’m trying to get at is that even though the vocalist, at nearly all points on the album, is screaming, the sound of music behind him is a different story; the songwriting has a melodic flair to it and has a very non-confrontational veneer. I think fellow YPOIW writer Kyle Shoemaker said it best when he said “the music is about as intense as Wolf Parade”. You can almost say Comadre likes indie rock as much as they do punk rock; the guitar playing can be very melodic and the group even brings in other instrumentation like organs and keyboards, horns, even an accordion on one track. Not to mention the drummer is often playing with a tambourine intact. The music this band is playing with has kind of a folksy feel to it at points, where it sounds like the band might be influenced by early Against Me! or maybe some Andrew Jackson Jihad.

The package Comadre puts together is pretty unique in the sea of copycat hardcore and punk these days. I can pick these guys out of a lineup and I like that about ‘em. They put this sound to great use in some of the tracks on this album, like the fantastic lead single “Cold Rain” which is one of the more driving tracks on here. Songs in that vein like “Must Be Nice” and “Hack” are pulled off very nicely as well. The organ on “King Worm” sounds a lot like a 60’s pop tune, and it’s another interesting and effective sound these guys bring into the fold. This band shows yet another side of them on the untitled instrumental track on the back half of this album, which is easily the highlight of the LP for me. It shows this band can change gears and write something uplifting and empowering in a way not many bands in this genre can do, or even try to do.

As many great things as I can say about this record, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t some drawbacks. For one thing, I’m a fan of hardcore and screamo and am very used to this vocal style; however when it’s being put in front of this more melodic and folksy music and it’s the one thing on this album that never seems to change gears, it can be a little tiresome. To put it simply, the stagnancy of the vocals bugs me a little bit, and it actually turned me off from the album a good deal when I first listened to it. Another thing that bugs me about this album is just a handful of tracks that have their own issues besides the vocals. For me, the opener and a couple of other songs here just kind of pass me by, and a couple of the best moments on this record get brutally cut short. A great example of the latter is “The Moon”, which has that folk punk, Andrew Jackson Jihad-flavor and it would’ve been one of the best tracks on this album if it wasn’t just cut off so awkwardly and if it was actually allowed to go somewhere. Conversely, the next track “Drag Blood” which features some sorta Neutral Milk Hotel-style horn playing in the background that I like a lot, drags on longer than I think it needs to, or at least doesn’t have the variation it needs to accommodate its relatively-longer running time.

I wanna say that I really love what Comadre is doing with taking screamo and hardcore into terrain some people would be uncomfortable taking it to, and there were some experiments and risks on here I can say I liked a lot, even loved. But I don’t think I love this record the entire way through, although it’s still one of the more memorable listens you’re going to have in the first month of 2013. There’s enough melody, lightness and crossover potential on this thing to say that maybe if you’re not into screamo you can find some things to like on this record. It’s available for streaming below, and if you like it I recommend throwing the band a bone and buying it. I certainly did.

score: strong 7

(Robby will hopefully be posting more video reviews, and written reviews, more regularly. In the meantime, be a friend and follow him on Twitter @ClydeNut)

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