A friend of mine recently told me to check out Ceremony, a Northern California hardcore band that takes their name from a Joy Division song. Seeing that it was on Bridge Nine—a label notorious for a plethora of youth crew bands—I was dubious but became impressed upon listening to Rohnert Park, Ceremony’s latest release. While previous releases fall into a stereotypical fast, gang vocal hardcore sound, the thirteen songs on this album come off sounding much more like Black Flag meets the Dicks. The vocals are snotty and full of angst with the music ranging from aggressive to the occasional ethereal. Tracks such as “Into the Wayside Part II” and its follow up, “Into the Wayside Part III” include homemade audio samples with some actual singing, too. But the majority of this is quick hardcore with lots of early punk influence shining through. As I’ve mentioned in past reviews, the key here is the band is obviously not playing their influences (in interviews I’ve seen them include Sunny Day Real Estate, Beat Happening, Deerhunter and obviously Joy Division as bands they’re into), which makes for a more original take on the music. Songs such as the opener, “Into the Wayside Part I/Sick” and “Terminal Addiction” are standouts with catchy lyrics that retain intensity and aggression. Rohnert Park isn’t by any means the best album of 2010, but it’s the attention to subtle things such as the bottle tapping on “Terminal Addiction” or the trudging, emotionless music and vocals of “The Doldrums (FriendlyCity)” that matches the song title so well, which make this a refreshing album. As the hardcore kids used to say (or maybe they still do?), get this or pose.
–kurt (Bridge Nine)