Voice in the Wire Signals in Transmission

[Eyeball; 2004]

Rating: fast 4/5

Styles: punk, emo, hardcore (I guess)
Others: Blink 182, too many to mention

It's time we redefine hardcore. It's too general of a term, and too much has changed while too much has stayed the same. It seems to me the genre is one of the more scene-specific (and time-specific) operating in the music world. People want to be immediate and rock at full throttle, without sacrificing the age-old desire to make an audience feel their never-ending angst. I've heard a lot of bands doing what Voice in the Wire does, with little to no variation: fast 4/4 time with chuggy melancholic melodies that have become decidedly adolescent sounding over the years. This band's music places me in a Fear Street time, before I knew about all the different stuff that was out there, both mainstream and underground, and how these harder to pigeonhole artists could age in a way that transcended whatever changes you wound up going through.

In the early to mid '90s, I'd head-bang and throw my body around to pop punk stylists like NOFX, Goldfinger, or Rancid. I loved Dookie, and played the crap out of it. What did I love so much about this music? Yeah, it was formulaic, but it seemed to leap out of the formula every now and then (I have fond memories of laughing at NOFX's goof-off songs, and re-appreciating the '80s through MXPX's cover of "Take On Me"). That and I wasn't all that demanding of a listener. Gimme a hook, some attitude, and plenty of volume, and that'll do. Now, I just can't seem to get into the spirit of the high-energy genre fodder Voices in the Wire churn out. It's almost soul-deadeningly unoriginal and possibly just unnecessary. All of the aforementioned bands contained infinitely more spontaneity and charm than this band, though they essentially perform the same service.

Hardcore (and that's not some tattoo on your t-shirt, I'm talking about the actual music) can be innovative. Just look at Jawbox, At The Drive-In, Sunny Day Real Estate, The Blood Brothers, or PG 99. Helmet, The Cherubs, Scratch Acid, Husker Du... There are just too many good examples to mention. E-mail me and I'll give you more comprehensive list if you want. I'm sure these scene embedded Jersey boys have something of an audience in their hometown. There's more than enough folks looking for pat music that fits neatly into their narrow, fashion accessible, parameters. But there's just too many bands doing the formulaic pop punk thing to even remotely recommend one stray, if competent, example.

1. Ash Black
2. Mark Each Word
3. Knives
4. Lives Lived in Verses
5. Follow the Trail of the Psyched
6. Second Story Porch
7. Under the Pavement
8. Letter to Myself
9. Better Days
10. How It Works
11. Trace These Notes
12. Steeltown Fight Song