As I merrily approached the end of my senior year of high school my ipod began to fill up with bands of a gentle sound. I thought the days of cramming into small, sweaty spaces to hear fast, angry music were behind me. I was too cool, too mature for that hardcore nonsense that had preoccupied the days of my adolescence. By the time I graduated I was so mellow, so passive. I had pardoned all the wrongdoers in my life, had passed on my boiling animosity to the next generation of pimply tattered faced teenagers. I had been cleansed. So over it. But wait, why did I still feel overanxious everyday, like a bottle rocket ready to pop in its package? Why did I still spend some nights pacing the floor, worried sick that a disembodied hand would reach down from the sky to squash me into a mushy stew? Less than a month after graduation I resigned my maturity; I needed a therapeutic dose of the hardcore music I had “outgrown.”
Accepting the fact that I had never outgrown my angsty ears eventually lead me to hear two hardcore bands that I now dare not part from, Pianos Become the Teeth and Touche Amore. For two years I have followed both bands, looking forward to new music and requesting off work or delaying homework anytime either group came to town. When I heard that the two were coming together for a split 7”, I was delightfully gay. January, 8 (last Tuesday) Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth released said split digitally through Topshelf Records, Pianos’s home label. The physical LP will be available to the public January, 22. (One day after President Barrack Obama’s second Inaugural Speech. Irrelevant coincidence? I think, yes).
The two singles that comprise the 7” are faithful to each band’s unique sound. But both songs diverge from certain characteristics of the bands. Every song Touche Amore has written keeps a distant distance from the three minute mark (most barely exceed two). However, their contribution to the split, “Gravity, Metaphorically”, weighs in at a whopping four minutes and seven-seconds. The playtime of the song may cause longtime listeners to take a step back from their audio devices, but their distinct qualities are all present and accounted for: Subtle melodies painted against a wall of rushing chords, drumming that hums-out like the drone of a pulsating beehive hopped up on caffeine, and Jerry Bolmes passionate and honest cries. Addressing the universal struggle of coping with failure, Bolme wears his heart on his sleeve in his signature way, lending a gentle reminder to the listener that they are not the only one who’s frightened by their own shortcomings. They say it’s better to try and fail than to never try at all. Bolme seems to find this terse statement agreeable.
While Touche Amore may surprise devotees with the length of “Gravity, Metaphorically”, Pianos Become the Teeth’s track, “Hiding”, unveils a talent that their fan base has, till now, been ignorant of: Vocalist Kyle Durfey’s ability to sing. Durfey is known for his harmonious high-pitched yells. His distinct wails have even made him a bit of an anomaly in current hardcore music. After hearing “Hiding”, some Pianos enthusiasts have scorned Durfey for his newly found voice. I find the young man’s singing to be quite enjoyable. It’s not polished or extraordinary; it’s personal. Kyle’s own invention. Like wind breathing into the gaping sore of a decaying oak, rushing up its hollow body, trying to shake free the branches’ acorns from the inside out, Durfey’s voice vibrates with care and force, trying to shake the words lose from his lips for his listeners to gather. His passionate message of life and relationship is carried on a slow and lulling tempo. The melodies of guitarists Zac Sewell and Chad McDonald echo as if played from the belly of a cave, distant from the earth’s surface. “Hiding” is a bold song, and, whether intentional or not, shows off a band willing to sojourn outside the boundaries of familiarity. Pianos Become the Teeth is a band whose compass always points forward.
Touche Amore and Pianos Become the Teeth have toured together extensively over the years; so it only makes sense that they should partner-up for a split. Topshelf is practically giving-away the digital release. Apart from the minimum charge of $2, you name your own price. (If you’re a longtime fan who’s spent countless hours enjoying either bands’ music, don’t be a dick). And although my opinion is just that-an opinion-my opinion stands: Whether you’ve been listening to Pianos Become the Teeth or Touche Amore since they started-up, or are just now seeing what all the commotion is about, I think you will find this split to be worthy of your listening time.
If you are interested in purchasing the digital split or pre-ordering the split on vinyl, visit www.topshelfrecords.com