Photo courtesy of Sarah Souders Photography
Grammer play twinkling yet punchy emo, in the vein of Dikembe, Snowing and 90% of the Count Your Lucky Stars roster, and they play it very well. Awesome Knifes is their debut release, and it’s very promising, pairing more traditional and sobering emo with often spirited instrumentals, making for a release which is both jubilant and jaded.
There’s a calming nostalgia to Awesome Knifes, reminiscent of the emo of yesteryear – American Football and Mineral to name the two main influences. Alongside shimmering soundscapes there’s an intensity to it all that the former lacked and the latter often delivered. A few tracks begin subtle and delicate before gently unravelling whist others dive straight in, with lyrics well capturing emotion, be it on Friends In The Hotel Industry on which vocalist Maxx Dixon yells out ‘Can I quit this job? / I’ve been working too long’ or the nostalgic opening line of ‘Chilling November, I’ll always remember’ on second track Coy Wolf. Opener and excellently named Astronaww, Man builds slowly from delicate melodic guitars and unfolds one step at a time, as mellow vocals enter the mix to complement the subtle backdrop before upping the pace with intricate guitars and a more passionate delivery, as the line ‘I woke up as an astronaut / I woke up amongst the stars’ closes the track in memorable fashion. Coy Wolf follows, and marks the EPs shortest track, coming in at just under two minutes, but still has a lot to offer through some of the better chilled instrumentals and an explosive final thirty seconds. Following track Quit (Your Job) does the opposite, holding nothing back initially with a Nai Harvest-like start and soon relenting to catchy bass and sombre vocals. There are a number of moods captured on Awesome Knifes and each is conveyed well, making for 13 minutes of emo which frequently rises and falls, often in quick succession. Closer Cigarette Regimen delivers much of the same, picking up the pace and opting for more of an indie-dance vibe before a quirky dying minute.
From an instrumental perspective the EP is solid, and on fourth track Friends In The Hotel Industry everything falls into place, and it’s probably the best track, with tiptoeing guitars accompanying smart drumming before every aspect of the band’s music climbs in tandem to an exuberant peak before levelling out again. Lyrics about feeling trapped in work are relatable, and the flaring instrumentals sit well alongside a more aggressive delivery, drums in particular. Alex Harris’ drumming is clever throughout, mixing things up on a whim, whilst his production is suitably low-fi, never highlighting one area or detracting from another. As a result Awesome Knifes is well crafted and delivered, catching the claustrophobic nature of emo and making it cagey yet open, with sparks of life as tracks like Quit (Your Job) surge forward before dropping off to a fuzzy haze. The EP also sounds effortlessly cool, often coasting along, and it’s more explosive moments never seem to go too far in order to impact a listener, making for a comfortably blend of dejected and dynamic. Occasionally, maybe Grammer sound too familiar, but that’s a criticism that shouldn’t really be considered a criticism, if that makes sense. There’s a reason that people enjoy music of this nature, and they’ll find plenty more to enjoy on the Springfield band’s debut.
Sure, there’s some room for growth as is expected, but as far as debut releases go Awesome Knifes is particularly good. Maybe you’ve heard something like it before, maybe not, but after a few listens you’ll be looking forward to hearing more.
Rating – 8/10
Download / Stream it here: http://grammercomma.bandcamp.com/album/awesome-knifes