Review Summary: DIY band shows everyone how it's done.
Comadre have always been rambunctious and hard working- releasing 5 albums/eps since their inception in 2004 and numerous split lps - whilst maintaining, or at least shooting for, a sound which encapsulates more than just in-your-face hardcore punk/emo. On their earlier releases, such as "Burn Your Bones", they kept their music short, fast, chaotic and fairly typical as far as the genre goes though perhaps more interesting than their DIY peers; guitarists Kenny Gabe and Jack Shirley relied heavily on speedy power chords and dissonance, Vocalist Juan Gabe displayed a fantastic texture to his "Hardcore" delivery whilst sounding a little too mumble-bumble in his pronunciation and both drummer Wesley Elsbree and bassist Steven Shirley held down the bottom end in an effective, if sometimes terrific, manner. However, their 2013 self titled effort sees the band blowing away all competition and raising the bar a fair few proverbial levels.
On the not-so-close-back of 2009's "A Wolf Ticket", which evidenced the bands growth as far as clearer songs and more diverse volume/compositional ideas, "Self Titled" comes baring gifts. Opener "Color Blind" and it's adjoining track "Cold Rain" find the band at their pounding best; driving drums and bass (a particularly memorable bass line forms the backbone for "Cold Rain") mesh perfectly well with Kenny and Jack's simple yet exciting staccato, dissonant and anthemic-sliding guitar work whilst Juan showcases his much improved - clearer though equally harsh - delivery. These tracks open the album brilliantly; short, sweet, chaotic yet reserved and simply enjoyable. Then, following a number of tracks which build further on the albums sound - incorporating a tasteful usage of organ and keys - comes "Drag Blood", the song which truly takes the album to another level. Boasting a plodding swagger, memorable vocal line, some seriously cool pairing of bending guitars and organ, and a catchy horn section, the song implements several of the bands strongest ideas as it builds towards a slowly growing, then dying, groove. It also contains some of Juan's most tortured vocals as he belts out the line "The Devil owes me..." again and again with accompanying/answering lines such as "The Lord's first born", and although these lyrics aren't necessarily exceptional Juan makes them much more engrossing than they appear on paper.
Further tracks add to the albums solidity ("The Moon" is brilliantly addictive), including a piano based instrumental which sees the band steeping out of it's comfort zone and pulling it off, more simplistic hardcore punk and a song which contains a short sample of Amy Winehouse's "Back To Black" no less before reaching it's fantastic ending with "Date Night". The album's closer, it's opening section and chorus' in particular, shows a slightly different side to the band; almost blissful in some of the instrumentation as Juan's vocals sound seriously harsh yet not ridiculous on top of the chorus' whilst still holding a hell of a lot of punch. The song's structuring, tonality, it's use of acoustic guitar and piano to colour the sections along with one of the catchiest and coolest riffs you're likely to hear makes for one of the band's best moments and ends the album in the best possible way. Sadly, compliments aside, the LP does have it's flaws. The main problem with this album is also one of it's strongest aspects, that being that the songs are short. Only two break the 3 minute mark and whilst this lends itself extremely well to the style of music Comadre play, it also hinders certain tracks' progression as ideas which are interesting and entertaining fail to develop into anything other than a verse or a chorus. Nowhere is this more apparent than "Hack", although the song is actually one of the strongest on the album, it is simply too short, as it builds up and pays off and builds up yet again to pay off but failures to capitalize on it's solid sections (only two in all honesty) with anything other than what is presented in it's 1:56 run-time. Finally the lyrics do deserve a mention. Although they aren't particularly inspiring or original for the most part - in fact they tend to be fairly average - they do fit the music very well and some lines are deceptively memorable:
"It's the moon that's colour blind" "Let me hear his name, I bet it tastes like rain" and
"There was a summer suicide"
stay with you long after listening. This fact, although slightly disappointing, does not hinder the album too much as Juan more than makes up for some of the weaker lyrical points on the album - none are downright bad - via his truly gut-wrenching, melodic and gravelly vocals.
Overall, Comadre have produced one of the best new releases in a long time as far as their preferred genre goes and certainly in the DIY scene. Despite it's minimal weaknesses, this album should find it's way in to most, if not all, music fans' collections.