Is This the New Emo?

Yardsale (Harlan Honeywell Records)

By Sean Hoban

I remember Yardsale from about a year ago when I picked up a free demo of their material at (I believe) Twice Told Books. Taking it home, I was pleased to find it was a rollicking trip through upbeat rock `n' roll. Now I have their official debut album, self released this year. It is more down tempo than the demos I had previously heard, but it's a satisfying CD in its own way.

Yardsale, at least on this disc, sounds like a combination of Weezer's various quieter experiments (like "Only in Dreams") with Built to Spill. Their sound is pretty representative of what emo has developed into this side of the 2000 mark. It lacks the scream and punch of early emo bands, but it is pleasantly melodic with sweet, although often a bit melodramatic, lyrics. The guitars and drumming are pretty solid and the vocals work with the instrumentals pretty consistently throughout.

Special highlights are the ultra down-tempo closer "Snow is Good," and the lo-fi basement recording feel of "Hannah" and "My Cowboy Past." Yardsale hits its best mark with these latter two songs, mostly owing to the resonant, almost live feel of the smashing drums and echoing guitar.

Yardsale has produced an airtight debut album, pretty nice for the genre. The band slips a bit on some lyric composing, such as on the super emo "When You Open Your Eyes," where lyrics like "I wish you loved me half as much as you love Jesus Christ / Do I have to be crucified to win a place inside your heart" seem pretty forced. Perhaps the song is supposed to make me grin in its, well, desperation; it could be a subtle mocking of punk songs like Green Day's "Church On Sunday."

This one confusing track aside, Yardsale demonstrates a good ability to rock through some post emo guitar and drum-fueled rock 'n' roll. They are playing plenty of shows around town, so do check them out and if you like their live performance, do pick up this CD.

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