Flowers Taped To Pens/Nevasca/American Memories/DayCare Split
(Ozona Records 2013)
Finding a sufficient balance between beauty and violence can be a difficult task, but can make the difference between a song that's perfectly striking and one that's overly saturated with one particular feeling. Each of the four bands on this split tape display mastery of achieving this sonic equilibrium, lobbing lightweight, crystalline guitaristry to be belted out of the park by abrasive crescendos. It's fascinating to have four takes on the rising DIY screamo/twinkly scene all on one release, and even more so considering that there is still a great diversity of sounds contained within the confines of the genre.
The first of these bands to appear on the album is San Diego's Flowers Taped To Pens, offering up two tracks. "Ghosts in My Bed" opens with a pleasant degree of creaminess, as clean guitar pluckings wallow in a warm trumpet drone. Shortly after it starts, this melody eerily ceases, interrupted by a yelp. The full extent of the band's angst-driven energy rains down from above, a warbly and surprisingly dreamy brand of hardcore supplemented by screamed vocals. Their second song, "That Same Street", is less fast-paced but is perhaps more intense. The guitars turn shaky loops in the air, wobbling and improvising their way through a spacious rhythm provided by distant percussion. The tension this instability creates threatens to snap at any moment, yet somehow manages to hold itself together for four full minutes.
Following Flowers Taped To Pens is Russian quartet Nevasca. Their sound is poppier and a little more accessible than the rest of the bands featured on this release, weaving complex, shimmering guitar melodies together over anthemic exuberance on standout cut "Leaving This Northern Town". The interplay between the male and female vocalists is stunning, and adds even more layers to a song that is already quite textured. "Memory Fails Me" is the mini-epic around which this split revolves, clocking in at nearly 7 minutes. It nearly tresspasses into post-rock territory; it's minimal, and instrumentally charged, resembling an emo Sigur Ros.
American Memories step up to the plate next, a lo-fi and rather streamlined skramz track. The vocals are in the spotlight on "Grave", crashing into the fuzzy walls of guitar and pounding drums. California's DayCare make their debut as the final band to appear on the split, providing the lone tune "I Don't Wanna Come Home". It's the most polished sounding of the bands here, emphasizing the raw screams over chiming guitar chords. There really isn't a weak spot on this whole tape, and a full listen is worth your while.