Something Else to Brag About

EP (Vagrant)
Emanuel

By John Bohannon

Alternative music these days truly is an "alternative." Since the big alternative kick in the '90s faded, we haven't seen much of it in recent years - until now. Louisville natives Emanuel have put together an eclectic mix of alternative influences to deliver a sound that would come out if Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and The Vines were to butt heads.

The band has been playing and rehearsing together since they were 15 years old and are now on their way up the ladder of success. After paying dues here in town, Emanuel was scouted and signed by major label Vagrant and will release its first full-length in March. This three-track EP delivers enough power to hold you off until then.

For me, there is a big bias against screamers. I tend to not enjoy having someone screaming in my ear to the point where I cannot understand a damn word they are saying. Emanuel vocalist Matt Breen has completely thrown that bias to the curb. From the beginning to end of "The New Violence," the mixture of the explosive guitars and vocals leave your head pounding in a sense of helpless joy. But it's not all about screaming for these guys; the melodic chorus breakdowns show these guys can really sing.

When it fades into their first single "You Cannot Rape the Willing," the force just keeps on pounding your gut. According to Breen the song doesn't refer to physical rape but about vices in general. Breen pounds his message across with the help of his alarmingly driven band. One can only imagine how the windows are kept intact when this band comes to play.

The band draws from their immediate influences by delivering a cover of The Smashing Pumpkin's "Disarm." Sometimes covers come along that are better than the original; it's quite a rare occasion, but this is absolutely one of those occasions. Breen catches some breathiness and continues to rasp melodically to create a beautiful atmospheric voice. The fully orchestrated music accompanies the acoustic guitar magnificently to knock Billy Corgan's socks off. (This isn't to downgrade Corgan's talent at all; Breen is just that darn good.)

At only 21 years of age, I'm sure these young whippersnappers have plenty left in them. This band is a must for all the people still latching on to whether Courtney did it or not and even those that don't particularly like the genre should give it a valid shot. It's great to see Louisville has produced another great band the town can brag about.