A horrible hack

Kneejerk - Abjure

Don't Clap It Startles Me

Year Released: 2000
Format: CD
Label: Skipworth
Reviewed by Andy Malcolm on Jun 13, 2007
I have to say, I'm not exactly adoring the state of the 'hardcore' scene in the UK. We're overflowing with exciting indie rock and poppier bands, but hardcore is another matter. So here is a beautifully put together split CD from two bright young things to throw a little innovation into the scene, and shake things up. While we're here, I must say this such a lovely packaged CD, understated, textured paper, with handwritten insert. And I love the title!

The bands, the bands! Well Kneejerk have come a long way in a year. I saw them play in Leicester one evening about 10 months ago, and they were solidly unspectacular. Then I saw them a couple of weeks ago in Norwich, and they were quite stunning in their empassioned performance. Sure, the rolling around on the floor is a little cliched, but it's fun to see a band willing to do that instead of stand on stage and not do much at all, or just point and shout slogans. 5 songs here, nicely varied from the get go. Solace is all layered screaming rock influenced hardcore, then breaks into a Mineral style twinkle part and strained vocals. The multiple screams here are just super cool, and contrast with the vocals real well. It's weird. Mineral mixed with, what, Hot Water Music? Great song. "Back to the Trains" begins jangly before moving back to the scream/sing rock music, and has a spoken word parts where they fall down a little, especially in the live setting. Lad, you speak to fast and not nearly clearly enough! Check out the Native Nod record, a little more confidence wouldn't go amiss. Spoken word can be so effective when you get it right. They develop the sound they've got going over the final 3 tracks, throwing a few neat tricks in as they go a long. "The True Art of Rebellion" is metally hardcore, not really my thing. Luckily they follow it up with "Wire Wool", which is. Sorrowful vocals over minimal twinkles builds up into an emo rock song. Finally "Handholdhigh" which is total Mineral for like almost 3 minutes, then it lurches into lumbering rock and screaming vocals again. Probably my favourite of the 5 tracks, especially when it all crumbles into the quiet as a mouse strum they wind the song down with. So, um, yeah, overall, very, impressive. Everyone else seems to compare them to Boy Sets Fire. I don't like BSF at all, so it'd be an insult for me to do so. And from what I've heard of BSF, it's a cheap comparison anyway.

And how about Abjure? Quite a contrast in some ways. The first song starts out all folksy acousticism, but hold up, hold up! Nail yourself to the seat. Things are about to get a little odd. Because "Comfort" is off-kilter crazy whacked and chaotic hardcore with odd time changes and just full on screaming vocals, and even some kind of weird FX break. Fucking go! Then listen to that spooky and chunky riff they come back with, gotta love it. Back comes the screaming as they continue to tear things up, pausing for breathe with a bit of emo twinkling then going nuts, then twinkling again. *woah* What you're left with is a totally special track. Here's the accolade: a song worthy of a Witching Hour record. For real. Screamo chaos, you gotta dig it. Comparisons, oh, uh, Orchid in a way, and um, I'll dig out my Witching Hour records and play a couple then let you know at the end of the review. "Jingle" is hectic and straightforward hardcore that isn't so far removed from the Swarm but it has an added jazz freak out! What the? Keeping people on their toes no doubt. A good thing. Next ups is "Remind Me What It Is I Like About You" which is once again a blend of mental, metally screamo hardcore like Orchid, and pretty, blissout strums and some violin too. Portrait, Portrait! Heh. The final song is a Suzanne Vega cover, as if to make it obvious if you didn't already realise this band already had a daft variety of influences. It is acoustic, it has whispery boy vocals & dreamy girl backing. It sounds like Ida. A beauty. My cat Mog is asleep under the radiator. That's how I feel.

Kneejerk - damn fine band doing some damn fine stuff, if they were a little less Minerally and more screamo and I'd love them even more. Abjure - messing up the UK hardcore scene good and proper. We needed this just so incredibly desperately.

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