Though you might think this music emanates from the UK and is comprised of musicians well into adult life, you’d be surprised as I was to find out most are under 20 and from Pennsylvania. The youngsters have a highly skilled version of math-rock, post-punk and shoegazey pop under their sleeve, these five songs sounding like a band well on their way to stardom. Sometimes easily palatable with electro-pop flourishing, other times making the listener earn it with prog-rock and experimental ideas, they even offer a stripped back acoustic tune to close it out.
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Calling this math rock might be a severe understatement; Halaska’s idea of song structure puts them in a league all of their own. This first LP is beyond experimental, and moves on with a post-everything feel while alluding to free jazz, avant-garde rock and moments of carefully calculated noise. One might think something this meticulous would alienate the listener, but somehow Mayantology is instantly catchy – and don’t even get me started on that rhythm section…
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Four tracks of shimmering math-pop from the Philadelphia quartet, who prove to be pretty much the polar opposite of their name. The guitars are clean, bright, and serve as both focus and highlight, the melodies buoyantly bobbing about in a Maps & Atlases kind of way, whilst breathy vocals unassumingly flit in and out. For a debut outing it’s an arresting display of innovative and intricate musicianship, and an absolute steal as a pay-what-you-like download.
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We Be, 2013
Boisterous, intricate math-punk from the London trio. Their second full length outing is crammed with angular rhythms and manic percussion, whilst dual-gender vocals yap all over the top; imagine Johnny Foreigner covering Refused tracks and you might be close. Those back-and-forth vocals can sometimes be a little grating, but with the typically 2-3 minute track lengths it’s only ever a fleeting fault. Besides, you’ll usually be too beguiled by the inventive guitar melodies and brilliant drumming to notice.
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Building on their promising self-titled debut EP, London trio Press To Meco deliver five new tracks of vibrant math-infused rock. As demonstrated by the opener and title track, Affinity takes a slightly harder metallic edge than the previous EP, tossing about plenty of big, jagged, meaty riffs, though there’s still no shortage of pop-punk enthusiasm (see the gloriously sunny ‘Tired Bones’). The main source of the record’s poppiness comes from the vocal harmonies, of which all three members partake; it’s an infectious strength that’s fast becoming a unique selling point for the band.
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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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