Review Summary: "it is sincerely my dream for anyone anywhere to listen to these songs and take away anything."
There’s always been sort of romantic appeal to emo as a genre to me. Of course the lighthearted, catchy guitar tone that’s so distinctively identifies “twinkly emo” plays a part in it, as well as the playful carefree lyricism, which despite its sloppiness often holds a lot of emotional value. However what I find truly remarkable about the genre in concept is its uncanny ability to find magnificence in the oddest, most obscure places. Looking back on the handful of bands that I can really appreciate from the genre, with the exception of one or two, none of them ever had any major following during their time as a band, yet the small crowd they were able to gather had a resilient love for them on a much more personal level than you’d find with most bands. None of them ever made any serious money off their projects, and a lot of the time albums would just be put up for free for the few who’d bother to find them. Production was sloppy, recording quality was questionable, and physical copies of any of the music was a rarity very few could afford.
Despite all this, there’s this spectacular sense of wonder that so many of these bands were able to catch that’s unparalleled. It creates this incredibly personal and heartfelt atmosphere of finding something so amazing out of such an unlikely, low-key environment. And luckily, it’s something that’s found in abundance on these are all old songs. A quick glance over their Facebook or Bandcamp will tell you that Aches is about the epitome of the bedroom-Bandcamp-emo project aesthetic. It’s all primarily written and recorded by Griffin Silver, and all Aches material is put up for free. And as the title quite literally suggests, it’s not even considered a full LP or EP; it’s just a collection of old and unused songs.
The thing is, despite all this, these are all old songs probably has more cohesiveness, creativity, and genuine passion in it than the vast majority of major emo releases I’ve heard. Each song seems to flow seamlessly into the next, creating this frantic flow of earnest emotion being backed up by some of the catchiest and most varied song writing I’ve heard. Victim kicks off the album with the most energetic song of the album, with heavily distorted guitar work blasting out Glocca Morra-esque riffs, yelled and strained vocals sailing over the chorus. Suspended. Out There. finds the compilation at its most minimalistic, being somewhat jarring yet oddly fitting coming directly out of Victim. The nearly whispered vocals are backed up by distorted vocals, a quiet bass-line, and synths to create a very atmospheric, desolate sounding sonic palette.
Trixie Tang marks possibly the most unique song on the album, with an almost wavy sounding guitar tone sounding like something out of a QOTSA album creating the main melody of the chorus, backed by very punctual beat on the drums and more distorted guitar work underneath it. Friends of Convenience, Nothing More is an almost Wingnut Dishwashers Union-esque acoustic song, with both the guitar and vocal work being incredibly sloppy and raw while still staying incredibly catchy and memorable.
The lyrics primarily cover the terror that comes with feeling isolated and misunderstood in the formative years of high school. The alienation that comes with feeling like you can’t properly express how you feel to those around you, the fear of meeting insurmountable and constant pressure, the dread of being stuck with the same group of people for 12 years; they’re all feelings that I believe everyone experienced on some level growing up. It’s the sort of sincerity that’s necessary to make this sort of music work; it’s the awkwardness and confusion that comes with growing up in its most raw form, in all its ugliness.
Unfortunately, Aches is probably a band that’ll never get widely recognized within music circles, and yet search for recognition is hardly ever a factor that goes into creating music this earnest. It’s about being able to share something with the world and hopefully reach out to someone who might be feeling the same way, to validate emotions that might be making someone feel lost and isolated. That alone should make this compilation of songs special.