Monday, February 20, 2006

Test Icicles / Boa vs. Python / Circle. Square. Triangle / What's Your Damage? / Rating: 7.7 / 4.2 / 6.0

Post-hardcore means not being afraid of keyboards. Post-hardcore means not having to apologize for fourth-grade humor. It means you acknowledge that moshing is not the only acceptable dance move. It means you don't find it a sell-out move to commission remixes from that "Music Sounds Better With You" guy and his buddy. Post-hardcore means occasionally sounding like a video game. It means you don't always have to be putting your vocal cords in mortal danger, though an old-fashioned primal scream still has its time and place. Post-hardcore means it's alright to release three singles from one album.

For those of us over the age of 30 post-hardcore meant your band really liked the early to middle years of Dischord and there was an even better chance you had at least one song that was directly influenced by Rites of Spring, Embrace and or Fugazi. Hardcore + emotional core (what the DC stuff was called first) eventually equaled the first generation of emo and I am not talking about the sappy singer songwriter material kids today or publications like Spin and Alternative Press call emo.

Rule number one of emo in the early 90’s: if you really were emo, you didn’t talk about it and you NEVER used the word emo in relation to your band. Others could toss around the term in reference to your band but the term post-hardcore seemed less whiney and self important.

What I am getting at is calling Test Icicles post-hardcore doesn’t really work for me; a derivative of later day screamo perhaps (Blood Brothers / Locust) or a metal seeped step child of the Faint maybe but the Braid angle only goes so far.

Braid represented the nicer Midwest side of post-hardcore- even with their occasional yelps and howls. I could get even more painfully technical, talk about the history of their mathy time changes, the artwork, and guitar tones but all you need to know is Test Icicles are too rough and tumble and have too much attitude to truly represent this early to mid 90’s sound.*

(Braid you could bring home to meet the family but Test Icicles, not so much. I don’t even think I could announce their band name across a table of relatives without at least few of them crossing themselves or kicking me under the table for trespassing upon some invisible code of table conversation honor.)

I do however appreciate PFM’s Rob Mitchum pleading to a possibly inaccurate genre association. ("post-hardcore" may not be a wholly new or particularly accurate classification, “)

In this interview with Test Icicles the band talks about the music they like but how most of these bands don’t influence their music much. Few music journalist would guess that Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Descendents, Sonic Youth and West coast spazzcore were among the band’s list o' favorites.

(spazzcore is yet another branch of hardcore this one being well, mathyscreamyfastchaos and a good drummer is a must for this genre. Today this is called noise / art / experimental music)

Anyhow this all goes to show a music journalist can talk out their ass about band’s possible list of influences but these bands we name drop are more like a RIYL list for the reader to use as a reference guide.

There are now at least two generations of bands who have built upon the post-hardcore foundation that bands like Braid and the whole Gravity records roster had helped to build. The Test Icicles boys in 1993 (the year Braid was born) were probably under or around the age of 6.

Holy fuck where do the years go?

Suddenly I feel ancient and possibly too old to enjoy Test Icicle singles as much as I do; especially “Boa Vs. Python” but the band plays and in turn satisfies about 8 different genres I like and relate to.(metal, dance, pop, hardcore, punk, rap, screamo, and rock)

Test Icicles’ sound may be difficult to pin down but Pitchfork did an acceptable job rating each single and let’s face it LOTS of people take note of their number rating and skim over the words so dragging this review out any further would be more masturbatory than it already is.

* (I should add here that it is easy to knit pick at these silly details because it is one genre of music I know TOO much about. I spent over 5 years being in one of these bands during post-hardcore’s golden years and with that came years of playing shows and touring with these bands. I also think I am one of like two other people I know who kept all these records in their collection. Navio Forge, Garden Varety, Thumbnail, Boys Life, Cap’n Jazz, Pitchfork {the band}, ATDI, Giants Chair, Shotmaker, Boilermaker, VSS, Antioch Arrow, Lync, Heroin, Ebullition samplers, Second Story Window, Angel Hair, UOA, Merel…hells yeah I still have them!!!)