Rika – How To Draw A River, Step By Step

Count Your Lucky Stars / Goddamn Records, 2013

Dreamy, stripped-down, and invariably pleasant indie rock from the Austrian quartet. For the most part How To Draw A River, Step By Step sticks to its sedate pace and broodiness – in a navelgazing melancholic way – which suits the strong Midwest US twinkly emo influence (it’s no coincidence Rika ended up on CYLS Records). The addition of piano and organ helps power some emotive post-rock progressions and, along with a few more forceful vocal moments, brings welcome texture and direction to a record that might have otherwise become lost in its own tranquil meanderings.

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Brave Bird – Maybe You, No One Else Worth It

Count Your Lucky Stars, 2013

Heartfelt math-pop along the lines of Dikembe or Snowing, Brave Bird stand out from the twinkly pack by virtue of their lively, dynamic, and consistently strong songwriting. The Michigan trio show themselves to be as adept at cathartic and hooky emo-punk as they are dreamy passages of American Football-like melodics, knitting the two together as seemlessly as if this were their fifth full length rather than their first. Recommended.

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Texas Is The Reason – Do You Know Who You Are? The Complete Collection

Revelation, 2013

Though TITR’s existence was short lived, in a mere 3 years they won over the hearts of everyone in the hardcore/punk community. This disc assembles all their releases into one convenient location – their LP on Revelation, split 7”s with The Promise Ring and Samuel and the 3 song EP that started it all. Additionally, two news songs that were penned in 1997 but not recorded until 2012 are included. Showing a more melodic sense to their hardcore roots with distinct singing and an extremely kinetic rhythm section, hearing these songs, some of which are nearly 20 years old, is like reuniting with an old friend. Things just seem comfortable, effortless and the memories that tie you together are as strong as ever.

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Kid Brother Collective – Highway Miles

Count Your Lucky Stars, 2012

Flag bearers for the ’90s emo/twinkly post-hardcore scene in Michigan, it’s been a decade since Kid Brother Collective’s final LP – so an ideal time for a vinyl reissue (and an accompanying reunion tour). Especially when the record is as infectious and vital as Highway Miles, its barely-diminished vibrancy a testament to the strength of the songwriting. Suffice to say, if you’re partial to the likes of Jimmy Eat World or Small Brown Bike and missed this the first time around, it’s an essential listen.

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Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

Dikembe - Broad ShouldersTiny Engines, 2012

From hard hitting rock to lulls of quiet twinkling, straight back to charged indie-punk anthems, Chicago’s Dikembe deliver on the buzz surrounding their debut EP last year. Steven Gray’s vocals switch between shouts and singing, his gritty delivery fitting perfectly the highly skilled guitar playing and full throttle melodies. The calmer moments bring to mind mid ’90s emotive post-hardcore, while the youthful energy is certainly very modern. Could be album of the year.

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Close To Home – Momentum

Close To Home - MomentumRazor& Tie/Artery, 2012

If you remember Finch, this follows a similar path with melodic and dynamic post-hardcore complemented by metallic moments. Close To Home briefly retreat to quieter moments with pianos, before jumping back into catchy choruses, furious guitar work and rapid fire drumming throughout most of Momentum. For the metalcore fans with a penchant for pop tunefulness, or those with an ear for harmony who enjoy some abrasiveness, this is one of the best outfits playing this sound.

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