Hybrid: Skyline Awake-- the sound's familiar...
Few bands easily walk the line between hardcore and straight-ahead pop/rock.
Hardcore, for those of you of the older persuasion without kids, is probably the present day music least palatable to stereotypical versions of yourself. Sure, there’s melody in there– buried beneath grinding guitar– but to the untrained ear (and sometimes, I must admit, to me) the genre seems to generally consist of staccato screaming on and off the beat.
Combining this genre, generally not known for its reliance on subtle songwriting, with melody of the sort found in pop/rock, is no easy task, but it has been done, with sonically pleasing results… and You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead (yes folks, that is a band name), for one, did a nice job of it on their latest album, Source Tags & Codes, and there have been a number of recent examples of the mix that show that the hybrid genre is beginning to bear fruit.
Originally hailing from the hardcore and (mostly indie) rock Mecca that is Harrisonburg, the hardcore/(indie) rock group Skyline Awake, formed in 1999 by bassist Brad Perry and guitarist Brendan Murphy, has the right mix down cold.
Two years of playing shows with groups such as the rocky Q and Not U, the overly enthusiastic Engine Down, the wonderfully sing-songy Butchies, and the melodious noise that is The Matlock Four concluded with a series of line-up changes that racked the group, resulting in a new drummer, Jonny Kuthy, and a new guitarist, Jason Butler.
But the songwriting team of Perry and Murphy endured, ensuring that the group’s particular mix of pop/rock/and hardcore would live on.
On the group’s soon-to-be-released EP, Fight Your Route Of Identity (Rosewater Records) Skyline Awake show off a level of cohesiveness that is only found in groups of great musicians who know each other’s styles through and through. Kuthy’s drums are so tightly locked in with Perry’s bass that frequently it’s impossible to tell the two apart.
The twin guitar barrage laid down by Butler and Murphy is extremely powerful, though the two don’t deviate enough from what the other is playing quite enough for my tastes. Singer/guitarist Murphy possesses a fine example of the half yelling/half singing voice of the type that Ian MacKaye of Fugazi has used for his long career, as well as Jason Reece of the aforementioned, and you will know us…
The last comparison is probably one the group has heard, or will hear a lot of in the future. Similar styles of music, and at least more than slightly similar sounding singers, might make AYWKUBTTOD a thorn in the side of Skyline Awake in days to come.
The remedy? I’d suggest an old-fashioned spitting contest between the acronym from hell and the local boys. Winner take all.
CD Release Party: Skyline Awake performs at Tokyo Rose June 26. $5, 10:30pm.