Review: whatnot - "Demos 2013"

whatnot - Demos 2013
(Self-Released 2013)

What is it with all the the Arthur references I've been seeing in lo-fi/emo albums lately? Ever since I interviewed  Pennsylvania's Ratburn earlier this year I've seen at least 5 other bands that allude to the long-running children's cartoon in some form, and, as a devoted fan of the show myself, I find this to be a welcome trend. Arthur's low-key, somewhat nostalgic look back at a late-90's adolescence matches perfectly with what I've dubbed the "tumblr-era emo" scene. Connecticut's whatnot is the first of these bands I've seen that's completely devoid of vocals, but that doesn't prevent it from being one of the strongest I've recently heard.

whatnot, the solo venture of Rock Bottom Records owner David O'Brein, resembles a less cinematic version of Explosions in the Sky, tight punk riffage interposed with shoegazy moments of shoegazy ambience. "insert pretentious song title here" is the best example of this sort of contrast, opening with a twitchy post-hardcore that bursts into a peal of post-rock tremolo picking. "all killer #nofilter" is the most placid of the EP's four tracks, layering orchestral synths behind Beach Fossils-esque rhythm guitar loop. whatnot is one of the most accessible post-rock acts I've listened to due to his relatively short track lengths, consistently compressing symphonic emo beauty into individually wrapped, snack-sized bites.