tossing manes / circle pits

as a child
before hopping on the merry-go-round
i’d survey each of the painted ponies spinning
looking to choose the steed that most struck my fancy – 

not too plain & not too pink 

a little bit of lightning in its eyes,
a few hot coals stirring under its hooves.

i’d swing up into the saddle
the music would burst
& all at once we were sent: 

motionless & spinning.

//

at the age of 23
i dragged myself coughing up north to a stage set for a skinny jean teen
prophesying her vision of swinging to the loudest versions of chasing-defining
struck by the fancy of “there could be nothing after this” –

came to the show with a boy in love with me or my denim vest / patched & distressed

­          he knows.

          i won’t be corralled in a tower stance
­          ­‌shielded from the stampede of fists and humeri
­          hurricane of sweat spilled beer & biochemicals

­          i’ll dive

like forked lightning into that little thunderstorm,
a few hot coals stirring under my converse hooves.

i chomp at the bit before i spit it out
& when the music bursts
all at once we are sent:


(he lets me go)

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Song of the Day: Repine

“How’s it stand? What are we? Let that sand flush my cheeks…”

Smooth. So smooth. Smooth as golden drops of sad sunlight peering through the window shade. Smooth as driving through the morning fog, making ghosts among a redwood forest. You can barely see the tops of the trees, they’re shrouded so. Moments like these when you feel the weight of life, yet the airiness of each breath.

You’ll find “Repine” on track five of Pianos Become the Teeth’s new album Keep You, released on October 28th. This Baltimore band is a member of “The Wave,” a group of new generation post-hardcore artists with brother bands such as Touché Amoré and La Dispute. Keep You maintains the raw emotional heaviness from Pianos’ previous work, but steps up the caliber of melodic rock influence, and lead singer Kyle Durfey has mellowed out some of the rough edges of his vocals. The effect is enchanting.

Wear me out,
like a sister haunting absence,
like a sister who’s finally had it,
like a room left open just for being kept,
like some lonely facet,
like the promise of a place and knowing you’re neither here nor there,
wear me out…

“Repine,” like many of Pianos Become the Teeth’s ballads, gives you the sense that though nothing is fixed, there’s some relief in the realization. The mist drips into dew on the ferns by the side of the road; you notice these things and for some reason, you can sleep now.

You can check out the song by clicking the picture of the album cover above.

We Do What We Want: Emery Review

With an album title like We Do What We Want, it’s hard to keep from caving in to the pressure to make some witty pun.

But I must say…when Emery does what they want, good things happen (I’m sorry, you knew the pun was coming, now let’s get past it).

This time around, let’s just say things got a heavy. Crunchy guitars and howls introduce the gut-puncher “The Cheval Glass,” sounding like a fury of china being flung about and smashed, until croons by lead singer Toby Morell breaks out of the madness. Then somehow the madness blends together with the sane in a rhythmic chorus dashed with screams. All is punctuated by a breakdown with an invitation to headbang. Welcome to post-hardcore.

“Scissors” follows up with machine-gun fire to the face–but just when you’re in the pit about to punch the dude next to you, in comes clean vocals and a steady beat. After an announcement of, “Here comes the breakdown,” a sweet guitar riff leads up to a chorus with dance-worthy beat. Some spooky keyboard work makes an appearance before a snarling wolf pack was brought in to finish it off.

You get my drift?

Oh, and speaking of drift, “The Anchors” continues to emphasize the heavy tone–this time by starting out softly and then building up to a swimming-from-sharks frenzy of Josh Head’s growling meshed with electric guitars and heart-hammering beats.

You probably get it now. Emery’s stepped toward face-melting horizons. What makes the post-hardcore outfit work for them, though, are the efforts put into creating songs that feel more spontaneous than formulaic.

I’ll use  one of my personal favorites, “The Curse of Perfect Days” as my primary evidence. Inspired by a nightmare Morell had of losing his family, it begins softly and thoughtfully, building up to a frenetic verse before being shattered by howls, and then out of nowhere comes a chorus to sing along to. Layered vocals–an Emery specialty–contribute to the next verses, and the last chorus pulls down the tempo for a slow-motion feel before bringing it back to speed in time for an abrupt end, as if you woke up from the dream you were in. And while the song keeps away from any obvious formula, it remains tight-knit and even catchy.

Another unique standout is “Daddy’s Little Peach,” which is written borderline ballad-style. With a minimalistic setup for the verses that lead to powerful choruses, the song tells the story of a young woman struggling with her identity as she falls into the trap of a player.

“Another eight hours and the day’s left you wanting reprieve. / Or at least religion. /But just relax, ’cause everyone’s sinning. / Last night. The drinks. The words./… / Your hair. Your make up. / Your high heels, impeccable. / And all of it just to sit / with some wannabe’s and counterfeits. / How respectable.”

The entire album is lyrically strong, written with honesty, becoming rather spiritual by exploring deep into the matters of when a person makes his or herself their own god. “You Wanted It” is a prime example:

“I created everything here that I wanted to see /So was that your plan, to leave me out? We were all reciting messages and pushing repeat / But this world you made does it let you breathe / Does it let you feel anything but yourself? / … / When was the last time you saw anyone else? /… / The plans you made, you wanted it / The bitter taste, you wanted it / What god became, you wanted it / But the one thing you need you’ll never get.”

Now, this isn’t all to say that We Do What We Want is flawless. “I’m Not Here for Rage, I”m Here for Revenge” is unfortunately screechy, and “Addicted to Bad Decisions” intros with a synth pattern that seems disjointed from the rest of the song, which ultimately moves along fine without it.

The closer of the album, “Fix Me,” is well-written with a stripped-down set and honest lyrics about the need for salvation, but it’s placing in the track listing needs a little help, as I felt it became completely overshadowed by the prior song “I Never Got to See the West Coast.”

That said, “I Never Got to See the West Coast” is a crowning sweet little beauty for We Do What We Want. In regards to someone dealing with suicide, the song is raw with emotion; composed with acoustic guitars, crooning vocals, and somber effects by electric guitar and keys, the lyrics seep in and grab tight to the heart.

As a whole, We Do What We Want pulls together a solid post-hardcore work that will find a crowd of headbangers to welcome in to the Emery family.

4/5

We Do What We Want: Emery concert with Oh, Sleeper and Hawkboy

In the summer, Fresno is a hot place.

Last night, though, it was abnormally hot–an unusual pattern consisting of Hawkboy, Oh, Sleeper, and Emery blew in with a gust of summer winds and ended up completely melting all in its path.

Yeah, it was that awesome. If you don’t believe me, you should keep reading. And not pay attention to how bad the pictures look. It’s not my fault that I can’t keep people’s heads out of the shots, I’m just a short chick with a digital. Sorry. Anyways…

It isn’t often that I go to a show where I’m completely stoked to see every band playing. But the We Do What We Want Tour for me was a stacked lineup of bliss.

After two local bands opened, Corsair and Antidote for Anxiety, the two-piece band Hawkboy played. Cody Bonnette and Aaron Lunsford, members of former band As Cities Burn, brought on some stellar prog rock with a setlist including “Two Bit,” “Scoundrel,” and “Damnkneesya” from their new self-titled EP, stripped-down versions of “errand rum” and “pirate blues” from As Cities Burn’s Hell or High Water, and a Pedro the Lion cover.

According to Cody, Hawkboy will be writing some more songs after they finish their scheduled touring, and from the sound of their EP and performance, future raw music seems to be in store for them. I’m excited.

Metalcore act Oh, Sleeper followed, energy cranked up to extremely high levels of head banging. They are the reason there should be special massage places opened for people with post-concert neck trauma.

“Vices Like Vipers” (off of debut album When I Am God) began the setlist perfectly with its soft opening verse that built up to a barrage of Micah Kinard’s wrenching howls and gut-punching guitars of Shane Blay and James Erwin, sending the crowd into a frenzy that continued through performances of tracks off of  Son of the Morning, including “New Breed,” “Son of the Morning,” “In All Honesty,” and “World Without the Sun”–circle pit, anyone?–with “Reveries of Flight” and “The Finisher” saved for a powerful ending.

Cody Bonnette also popped in to add his vocals for “In All Honesty.”

Micah Kinard–Don’t let any of the promotion pictures fool you. This guy is a total sweetie.

Emery reigned supreme as the headliner. Fresh with new album We Do What We Want, this melodic rock/post-hardcore band had plenty to encourage the crowd to sing/headbang/dance/mosh/die from awesomeness.

Let’s see…Well, first they started with a pumped classic “So Cold I Could See My Breath” (off of The Question), then played let’s-dance-and-punch-each-other new song “Cheval Glass,” which was followed by “The Smile, The Face” via In Shallow Seas We Sail. Sounds good so far?

After rocking through “Scissors” and “The Butcher’s Mouth,” Emery toned it down with acoustic versions of The Weak’s End songs “Fractions” and “The Ponytail Parades,” along with a beautifully somber new track “I Never Got to See the West Coast.”

“The Curse of Perfect Days,” a song inspired by an actual nightmare of lead singer Tobey Morell, kicked the energy back into gear, with time left for “Listening to Freddy Mercury” and scream-in-your-face “Walls.” Still catching our breaths from the last song, the band delighted the crowd by returning onstage for an encore performance of “Studying Politics.”

Super raw.

Oh and we also got a picture with their merch guy, too, who’s actually Jake Ryan of Queen’s Club. He’s super rad and likes Qdoba.