Review Summary: Oddczar brings a powerful and sincere modern screamo album to the table without just being old hat.
In the past few years that I’ve spent working to grow as a music listener, I’ve only warmed up to punk and its various subgenres after a friend explained the punk ethos to me. The idea that the skill level of the musicians behind the instruments and the microphone is essentially irrelevant tickled my fancy. I wanted to understand and love what the heart of punk was, and it’s just that, the soul of the artists and expressing that in whatever way they can. Once I had eventually gotten into some punk and wanted to listen to more eccentric branches of the genre, I checked out Pg. 99’s album Document #8
which opens with the quote: “Punk rock should mean freedom. Liking and accepting anything that you like. Playing whatever you want, as sloppy as you want. As long as it’s good and it has passion.”
Those lines from what I now know as a relatively famous screamo album bring me to where I am today, and that’s listening to another band of the same genre, Oddczar. A 5-piece band from Charlotte, North Carolina, Oddczar follow this punk ethos and the guidelines of the Pg. 99 quote to a tee. While not sloppy by any means, these guys play heartfelt emotional hardcore/screamo and certainly play what they want with passion. They’re not afraid to wear their influences on their sleeve but they never slip up in making their music their own. In its 17 minutes and 54 second run-time, debut album One Word
takes listeners on a quick, cathartic trip through the heartaches and pains of teen and young adult angst.
Vocalist Matthew Brandon impresses even in the first track, “Samsquanch.” He is satisfyingly gritty and emotive but enunciates very well. He comes through loud and clearly in the track “Bud Brothers” with the line “It’s just that the best of what we had was not good enough for me” and tops it off with a primal yell to finish the track with a sense of authenticity in his heartbreak. His troubles are real, and this goes hand in hand with the lyrics. It’s a cliché to even say that the theme of lost love is a cliché at this point, but Oddczar’s stories are personal and compelling. There’s a bit of everyone in tracks like “Nineteen” which has the following lyric: “Lately I forget to forget that you don't exist. I'm also growing comfortable with never being comfortable. Broken down, winded. Tell me there's more to nights like these than thinking through your symmetry.”
Though the album doesn’t exactly do anything revolutionary in regards to its genre classification, it’s an enjoyable romp through the minds of some upset young fellows. The driving drums and guitar drag the listener deeper and deeper into this atmosphere of depression and acceptance, but also a longing for relief. One Word is the aural equivalent of the days that you’re wondering why the hell your college-age self has so many problems, and I mean that in the best way possible. This is not to say that the album is a swirling mess of bleakness either, it’s music that’s not hard to bob your head to with some undeniably memorable moments as well. The title track has some of the catchiest riffing I’ve heard in screamo, “Nineteen” has a heavily distorted guitar lick that sounds just like anxiety feels, and “Sidesex” ends in one of the most satisfying breakdowns this side of the end of Orchid’s “We Love Prison.”
Though One Word
may not be reinventing the wheel, the key word here is authenticity. These boys aren’t playing music to try to be a part of some skramz revival movement because that’s the cool thing to do. They’re playing what they damn well please and absolutely putting themselves as people into their music. It’s good, and it has passion, and Oddczar have really put out an exceptional record in One Word