Civil Defense League, 2007

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Is Avec the most imaginative emo band that this genre could have ever produced? Sure. But Avec doesn’t really fit the “emo” mold. In fact, it is very difficult to classify this foursome from Baltimore into any rigid category, except for the very broad umbrella of indie music.

On the band’s latest release, Lines, the songs start hushed and melodic in a folky sort of a way, and explode at the most unexpected moment as the guitars and drums pound their way out of the speakers; vocals scream and roar with attacking vigor and unmitigated angst when singer Shawna Potter decides to rip everything that stands in front of her, assisted by her harmony compatriot Brooks Harlan.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

But the emo-ness of Avec is anything but the self-pitying jejune “I am crying for myself because no one’s doing it for me” clamor, but a very classy exhibit of emotional outpour without the baggage. The gusto and the punch in the music and the singing make the songs interesting just for their liveliness if not for anything else.

Besides the non emo-ness of this discernibly emo music, there are plenty of good reasons to like Lines. The most captivating one is the freeform nature of the music. Almost the entire album is built on songs that do not follow a set path. They just keep changing and, in a lot of instances, present the listener with the confusion of deciding whether the song is the same or the next one. This unpredictability, in all its inspiring glory, is complimented by Avec’s stellar musicianship, with the guitars and the drums shifting effortlessly between the painfully complicated song tempos; drummer Scott Tiemann is gold.     

The reason why it is so difficult to nail Avec to a particular style is the myriad genres that the band plays around with in its music. From alternative folk to dreampop to grunge to lo-fi indie, Avec reminds of too many bands spanning two decades in alternative music. The Jane’s Addiction influence is as semblant as the Pale Saints and the PJ Harvey ones.

Lines is a well-produced album with a perfect balance between jaggedness and sophistry. It seems as if Avec has tried to push its boundaries without heeding where it might land them. This, coupled with the unmistakable talent that the group possesses, has landed it with an album to be proud of.

Rating: A-

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© 2008 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Civil Defense League, and is used for informational purposes only.